Friday, November 25, 2016

Maybe There's More to the Story...

Like this heart-wringing tale about Caleb, a little autistic boy who's prevented from saying his line in the Thanksgiving play, by a thoughtless teacher who grabs the microphone away...

Except it isn't true.

Mom (Amanda Riddle) said he was supposed to say "gobble gobble" at the end. So did 'Dad,' Kent Squires. They were adamant that was his line.

Well, it wasn't.

Another attender took photos of the program and put them on Facebook:

Oopsies, Caleb isn't even listed at the end of the program. In fact, he wasn't supposed to say anything at all. See why here. 
     He wasn't one of the final speakers. (My guess: he saw the kids standing in line, and decided to join in. And since he wasn't bothering anyone standing there, why not.)

Contrary to what the edited clip above suggests, he DID say lines. Here's the full play, if you're curious:

Look at about 6:00 for his line. Again at 7:17 and about 8:11. Sometimes they're yelled...sometimes you have no idea what he said. But he DID say lines. More than some of the kids. Even though they weren't in the script.
    He enjoys himself wandering around in the background, wiggling, swinging up and down on the back fence, sticking his fingers in his mouth, etc. etc. But the teachers (and the audience) obviously can handle that -- including his enthusiastic yelling out phrases during the song. Special needs kids do that on occasion. Perfectly normal. And the teachers (and audience) realize that.

So, at the very end of the play...could the teacher have noticed him, and waited just a second? Would it have hurt anything for him to say 'Gobble gobble'...or whatever?
    Of course not. My guess is that she wasn't sure what he would yell in the mike, or she was hurriedly trying to conclude the program. Other kids enjoy yelling in the microphone, after all. (We know a little boy who got a kick out of turning the lights off during services...the assistant pastor's son!)

But to paint this teacher as a heartless, cruel person?  The principal certainly didn't think she was maliciousalthough he said things could have been done differently. (And they could have.)
     Kids with autism don't always understand. It's not their fault, it's just the way autism operates. The Brick drove a special needs schoolbus route for years, and still has a soft heart for kids who need a little extra help. Both of us feel strongly that these kids should be treated just like other kids. Note word choice here: not as SPECIAL, but as NORMAL. No special treatment. Treated like other kids.

But for his parents to act this way, considering that they KNEW he wasn't slighted during the presentation? In fact, it looked to me like extra allowances were made. A lot of them.

UPDATE:  Turns out there were a LOT more allowances made than even I sure to read this article from Appalachian Magazine.)

Why does this bother me? Because over the years, the Brick and yours truly have met up with parents of challenged kids who argue that their child shouldn't be treated differently than anyone else...then promptly start demanding special privileges for their little dear. If denied, they not only threaten to sue, but don't hesitate to march to the local newspaper, news station, etc. to give their side of the story -- and nothing else. We've seen this so many times, I've lost count.

I'd say Caleb's parents should be the ones making an apology.

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