Children with mental disabilities in the classroom

United States
September 7, 2012 5:44pm CST
My mom is a first grade teacher in public schools and for the past 2 years now she's had 3 kids that have had some sort of mental disability. Last year she had a girl who was a high-functioning autistic and a boy with Down's syndrome. Both were totally manageable and listened very well. The boy with Down's syndrome would be able to do his work and for most of the day he'd be in speech or other activities specifically for him. My mom never had any problems with either of them and her whole class got along really well. Well this year, she has a girl who is severely autistic in her class. The girl still wears pull-ups to school and wets and poos herself. She doesn't listen to my mom or her parents. If my mom tells her to do something she just says no or shush. Last week she even hit my mom because she got angry. The other students were upset and one boy said he wanted to cry because of what happened. This girl is very disruptive and she'll run around the room, bang on her desk, or jump around making noises. Although my mom has been teaching for over 20 years, she wasn't trained to be a special education teacher. Plus, she doesn't have the time to devote to this one child when she has 20 other students who are there to learn. The girl's parents aren't very helpful and they have never even taken her to a doctor to get diagnosed or to try and help her in any way. The school was apparently the one to diagnose her. I think it's great to try and have mentally challenged students in the classroom, but when the student gets to the point where they disrupt everyone and keep the class from learning, I don't think it's right. It's not fair to take away all this time from students who are listening to directions and waiting to learn. The parents should have enough sense to take her to an actual doctor and get a medical opinion or advice. You can't blame the girl because it's her parents that haven't helped her fully and educated themselves on how to deal with her. They believe she doesn't understand things such as bribes or other things. In reality, autistic people are very intelligent. Your thoughts?
4 responses
@sedel1027 (17855)
• United States
10 Sep 12
I agree with the posters above. There are some children who are high functioning autisics who can handle being in a classroom with non-autisic children. The girl you are describing is being unfairly treated by everyone involved. If I was your mom, I would be contacting CPS about this girl, explaining the situation and lack of care. I find it curious that your mother is allowed to teach children with disabilities. I was under the impression to do so your focus had to be in special education.
• United States
10 Sep 12
My mom is going to talking to the parents first about taking her to an actual doctor to get her autism formally diagnosed and see what they can do to help her. When my mom found out she hadn't been to a doctor, she considered that to be some form of neglect on the parents' part. She's going back and forth with the school to try and handle this girl's situation. I'm also surprised they let her teach children with disabilities. She has her bachelor's degree but she hasn't really had any training to deal with children with disabilities. She had a high-functioning autistic girl and a boy with down's syndrome and the both of them combined were not a problem for her. But this year this one girl with severe autism is out of control and there's not a whole lot my mom can do, especially since the parents don't seem to try much. My mom will write notes in the girl's agenda to take home and the parents will comment back "Oh well, there's nothing we can do".
• Jacksonville, Florida
8 Sep 12
I agree with you, I think it is wrong to have this child in a regular classroom. She should be with a specific teacher who can handle this kind of behavior. She should be in special education classes, not where she is disrupting things for the other children. It is not fair for anyone. This is exactly why I am Home Schooling my children. They are starting this everywhere now a days. In my sister's classes there were autistic children in most of the classes and the other children had a hard time learning because these children get the most attention... NOT right or fair. It is hard enough for teachers to give one on one attention when needed without further distractions.
• United States
8 Sep 12
It definitely puts the teachers in a bad position. They want to help everybody but it can be hard when a child with special needs demands most of the attention. It's not fair to anybody and sometimes when their condition is so severe they need to be put in a classroom with only a few other students with needs like theirs. Special education classes really seem to help everyone out in terms of being able to have class with limited distractions. But I do think it would be nice to have an activity or time where they're integrated with everyone else. It's just not fair to any students because it's hard for the teacher to get anything accomplished.
• United States
7 Sep 12
She should be in special Ed and certainly she should be diagnosed and treated by health professionals. It's not fair to your mon or her students. Hope this gets worked out.
• United States
7 Sep 12
She comes home stressed after work all the time and it's because of this girl. A lot of her stress comes from not being able to give her full attention to the rest of her class and she doesn't want them to suffer because of the one girl. But at the same time she feels bad for the girl and wants the parents to take her to a real doctor to try and get some sort of help. Apparently the girl wasn't defiant last year and she was really sweet. I hope that things change somehow so my mom doesn't dread work everyday
@bounce58 (17524)
• Canada
11 Sep 12
Can I look at this topic from the side of the teachers? The teachers here are actually on strike. They still do classes, and grade students, but that's about it. They don't "officially" do any other extra curriculars to help students (we all know that they do because teachers are just like that, they just want to help students). Their gripe with the government is that they are always given more than expected of them (most of the time without the commensurate compensation, or even training!). I think this is the same as your discussion. Your mom is given more (and more) responsibilities, on top of all the things in her plate as a teacher.