Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Stuart Chaifetz: Autistic Kids are Autistic

Stuart Chaifetz has an autistic kid.  Stuart Chaifetz sent his autistic kid to school wearing a wire.  Stuart Chaifetz listened to the recording of what his son's teachers said throughout the day.  Stuart Chaifetz got mad.

So, he released a Youtube video in which he tells the story, plays parts of the audio recording, and articulates his angry.



Now, what the teachers said to those kids was monstrous.  Their conversations in the classrooms were completely unprofessional.  Let's be clear:  The teachers were assholes who deserve to be fired.

I have to say, though, that Stuart Chaifetz is being irrationally angry about some aspects of this situation.  Yes, the teachers were unprofessional.  Yes, the teachers obviously did not care for the well-being of the students.  If he'd focused upon that?  This would have been a great public service that uncovered the deleterious conditions of his child's classroom.  Unfortunately, he did the thing parents do where they go beyond reasonable criticism and start to become overly emotional and, so, irrational about their child's treatment.  Let's deal with these components to the video.


"They treated them as if they were sub-humans who could never tell what they were talking about."

Dude, your kid is autistic.  While he may not be sub-human, in terms of genus / species classification, he does have some fucked up genes, and so falls in the lower intellectual spectrum of the species.  When his teachers talked about getting drunk, or their social problems?  He most likely did not understand what they were talking about.  He might have understood the general sentiment of being frivolous and entertained rather than serious and instructive, but, again, he's fucking autistic.  If he could understand exactly what his teachers meant, he wouldn't be in the class.

That does not excuse what the teachers did.  It simply points to a flaw in the father's reasoning.

Complaining that the teachers treated the students as autistic kids, who couldn't tell what was going on, isn't a reasonable criticism to make.  One hopes that a teacher, charged with the task of instructing autistic kids, will treat them as autistic children; that's the point of the fucking class.

The problem, in this situation, is that the instructor exploits the autistic kid's shortcomings and inability to report their conversations about liquor and sex.  The teachers took advantage of the kid's disabilities in order to slack off.

That's the complaint to make that speaks to the true problem.  Faulting the teachers for treating autistic kids as autistic is a retarded complaint to raise, since that's what you want them to do.  What you don't want them to do is exploit the autism.

"They called my son a bastard."

Your fucking kid doesn't know what "bastard" means.  If they called your son a "shit-faced cunt dropping", but said it in a nice way?  He'd probably giggle like a bastard and have a grand time.

Granted, calling an autistic kid a bastard is unprofessional.  But the linguistic utterance is not at all deleterious to your child's self-conception.  He's not consternated about his self-worth, having been called a bastard by his teacher.  He doesn't know what the damn word means, so it really isn't harmful to him.

The person to whom it is harmful and angering is you, the father.  Because you know what "bastard" means, and you've that lingering insecurity that results from the knowledge that you have shitty sperm that produces autistic bastards.

All of that?  That's a problem for you, not your son.  It is harmful to your self-conception, and your feeling of self-worth.  Your son doesn't give a shit about the linguistic utterance.

Now, to be fair, the fact that the teacher is calling the child a bastard is probably indicative of their incredibly problematic attitude towards the child.  "Bastard" is not a term of endearment to be used towards one's students.  Again, it's an entirely problematic term.

But it's problematic for the teacher to use it, and it's problematic for the father to hear it.  The kid doesn't know what it means, so the term isn't at all problematic, with respect to the child's own experience of the situation.

The way to go with this quote isn't to get all huffy about the term directed at the child.  The way to criticize the statement is to focus upon the attitude it belies in the teacher.


All of that being said?  The part where they tell your son that he'll never see his parents again, and then sort of laugh while he's crying?  That earns the teachers a special place in hell.  So, yeah, Kudos for wiring your son and releasing this video.

But maybe tone down the parental empathy, and focus upon the genuine problems of the situation, rather than the parts that just hurt your feewings.

73 comments:

Anonymous said...

Are you an idiot? A simpleton? How many autistic kids do you know? The class is "autism spectrum" so the kids have different levels of understanding. The kid in question is capable of having a conversation. "Autism" doesn't mean "totally mentally impaired". Of course many kids with autism know what drunken stories mean. Aspergers kids are likely in the mix. Of course most of them know when someone is calling them a bad name. I suspect most, if not all, of them have an IQ above yours.

Anonymous said...

Special ed classes contain kids with different levels of ability. You obviously do not have children or you would not make such hateful comments. It's torture watching your child struggle. In this blog, all you do is SWEAR and BERATE autistic children. You make yourself look like and UNCARING, UNEDUCATED, DUMBASS WHO IS JUST AS TWISTED AS THOSE TEACHERS AND NEEDS A CLASS IN COMPASSION AND EMPATHY!!!!

Anonymous said...

Wow, you are well below the thinking level of an autistic child. I read a paragraph and can clearly see that. You are horrible.

Anonymous said...

F You. That's all I have to say. Just F You- you uneducated swine.

Anonymous said...

http://abovethelaw.com/2010/05/time-for-our-daily-dose-of-political-correctness/

Caleb said...

I got your number:
House Season 3 Ep. 4, "Lines in the Sand"

The only thing is, I think somehow you didn't understand or didn't actually see the last 5 minutes.

_J_ said...

The kid in the House episode understood the sentiment, but not every particular linguistic utterance.

It seems strange to suppose that a 10 year old autistic kid would understand what the term “bastard” means. There probably isn’t a flash card for that.

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