The mother of an 11-year-old autistic boy has called for 'better teacher training' with regards to awareness of autism. Her son Robbie has been regularly singled out for displaying symptoms of the condition in class and is now taught in a separate building away from his schoolmates.
Robbie, who lives with his mum in Plymouth, Devon, has made a YouTube animation about his experiences, in which he discusses issues around the way his autism is handled in school, as well as describing bullying he has suffered at the hands of fellow pupils. He reveals that he has been disciplined for his uncontrollable fidgeting, which is a classic symptom of autism.
Without proper training about how to work with autistic children, Robbie's teachers have decided that the only way to handle his behaviour is to isolate his from other students, providing him with lessons in a separate area of the school. The way in which he has been treated has been so traumatic that Robbie will be moving to a different school next term.
Jenny, Robbie's mother, said, "It's not just Robbie - it seems this is happening in lots of schools with autistic kids. He wants to raise awareness of the fact this is happening. There is not enough training for teachers, and there seems to be a social norm to pick on autistic kids. On the whole we have been let down by the school. One teacher has been banned from teaching him because he would single him out in the middle of the class. It says in his notes that if he is fidgeting they are not supposed to highlight it as it makes it worse.
A spokesperson for Robbie's school said that Robbie had created a "worthy and very necessary campaign to raise the awareness of autism to a wide audience.". The statement continued: "All schools are committed to their well-publicised inclusive values, however, few schools can argue that in reality this inclusive philosophy permeates to every student and every parent. Education is certainly the key."
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