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Teach the individual

Voices | Published:

By Jonathan Channing

Jonathan Channing

WHEN you think of education and stereotypical autism you would naturally assume that something as prescriptive and predictable as education must be a dream come true for an autistic individual but I can assure you that is not the case.

Yes it is true that many autistic individuals will gain a sense of comfort from a predictability but the issue with education is not the format but rather the delivery mechanism, aka, the educator.

Being autistic in a world of conformity is challenging enough without the aid of an educational system built around conformity. Being in the educational system you are expected to be a carbon copy, follow order and not deviate in the slightest from the narrow set path that has been laid out before you by the educator.

It is astonishing to think that in this day and age we still have to worry about discrimination at such a fundamental level, such as different learning methods, creative thinking.

Within education we are conditioned to be less than we are and packaged in neat square boxes, no matter our size or dimensions.

This is a failing which many autistic individuals feel throughout their schooling, an oppressive and undermining experience that will crush the talented and out-of-the-box thinkers, ultimately leading to depression, anxiety and low self-esteem.

We, as an educational system, exclude and diminish the opportunities of those who are not standard and straightforward. We allow mental abuse in our schools every time someone is told ‘yes, that’s incorrect you did it the wrong way!’ Words which will echo in many an autistic child’s mind.

Why do we accept an educational system that seeks to crush and imprison creativity and abstract thinking? What is the rationale for carbon copies in the development of our society?

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I don’t believe that schools are places for intelligent people, because unconventionally intelligent people will learn in abstract ways with out of the box methods. Our schools cannot continue to exclude the unconventionally intelligent because they challenge their set way of thinking. In this day and age we cannot allow these individuals to be offloaded.

Teachers need to step up or step down, if they don’t know enough then they need to self-educate to an adequate degree. They hold futures in their hands and being under-equipped for their duty of care can ruin lives.

lJonathan Channing is an Autism Awareness Trainer.

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