Parent’s Perspective – Australia

Parent’s Perspective – Australia

Comment: This was sent in response to the article “What Is School Exclusion?” 

This is from a parent perspective and I am from Australia. Exclusion as experienced by my young Autistic has been more than just what’s typically and specifically defined;

* Segregation for me is a form of exclusion -For my young person this has been in ‘specialised’support classes and when they have been isolated in a learning group of one.

* Partial attendance particularly in the circumstance it has become a condition of enrollment

*Being directly and indirectly excluded from school activities. This has included excursions, sport, social activities on the basis of “behaviour”, low expectations, too much of a hardship to reasonably accommodate, support inclusion. When you are only allowed to attend school for an hour a day you are very much excluded from school life.

* They have experienced suspension, timeouts and forms of redirection of enrollment.

“Exclusion” for my young person has been a dominant part of their schooling experience. Poor systematic attitudes and culture surrounding authentic inclusion and real acceptance of students with disability I strongly believe has contributed to this. I also worry about school disciplinary systems which from our experience has been so reactive, punitive and not reasonably proactive. These days the direct forms of exclusion my young person has experienced I include in what I would consider to be a restrictive practice within a educational setting. My young person has also experienced restraint which I don’t see as an exclusion but certainly the trauma experienced would shape any sense of belonging my young person has alongside the exclusion they have.

In all of this exclusion I can’t see how my young person could have developed any sense of belonging within the school community and a positive identity as a learner. I don’t believe they feel safe and have much trust for the school environment or themselves’. I have witnessed first hand the stress, anxiety, the low self esteem, the days when they have called themselves’ a looser and have burst into tears.

Something has to change!

From our experience I certainly strongly feel;

– that policies and procedures need to be more rights informed and education systems to meet their obligations in regards to these rights. For example if authentic inclusion existed the majority of the exclusion my young person has experienced just would not have happened

– a huge rethink on how schools discipline

-these policies and procedures need to be informed by the experience and perspective of exclusion and the devastating impacts it can have on children, young people and their families, their lives and their future.

This is an anonymous entry that has been validated by Lisa Cherry.