I’ve been contemplating this post for a week. It’s a bit of a tricky one really due to it’s origin. It’s a reaction to a conversation Mr Boudica had with the wife of the big boss at his work. It shocked me. It shocked me so much I felt sick and the first thing I wanted to do was to tell the world. A week of reflection has only changed my opinion a little. I can’t guarantee to relay the entire conversation word for word, especially considering that I would rather Mr Boudica remained gainfully employed, but I have referred to the texts Mr Boudica sent me that evening.
Anyway, Mr Boudica was chatting with said person, who for arguments sake we shall call Mrs Daisy. I’m pretty sure that’s not her name, but as she is a woman of a certain age and pillar of the community & WI type, in my head, she wears a flowery dress and hat, the name will be fine.
I know not how the conversation turned to the subject, but Mr Boudica knew it wasn’t going to go well from here, when she says “How do you know your boys are autistic? You’re not autistic….” (Not withstanding that to the casual observer, Mr Boudica does indeed display several spectrum traits at times).
Now let us consider for a moment, Mrs Daisy in her pillar of the community role as a school governor. You might expect her to be somewhat enlightened and accepting of Autism and children with disabilities? You might. And you would be wrong. Oh so very badly wrong.
The conversation developed into a talk about how much SEN children cost schools and that the money just isn’t there. Especially as “Why should we expect them to read and write anyway?”
Yes you did read that correctly. For good measure I’ll put it again –
“Why should we expect them to read and write anyway?”
Hell, why not just write them off completely and have them locked up in institutions?
(No, she didn’t actually suggest that)
But if you ever thought your school understood your child’s needs and were going to provide the required support so they can have an education just like any other child, or if you thought the school was on your side. Forget it. People with attitudes like this are running our schools, so we’ve got no chance.
The apathy, the hate, the begrudging spending of budgets, the downright prejudice; it runs all the way through from the top down.
Other highlights of the conversation include “Well obviously, years ago we wouldn’t have bothered educating them” and “oh yes, some companies are even employing them these days”
While I try to ignore the fact that the delightful Mrs Daisy is talking about my beloved boys, my bright and funny boys whom I love dearly and would defend to the death, imagine for a moment that all those comments were said about black people.
It would be shocking, so shocking that I’m pretty sure that even Mrs Daisy would never have said them in public at least. Yet somehow, if you’re talking about SEN kids then they’re fair game?
Mr Boudica is of the opinion that she was trying to help in some strange misguided way. He thinks she was trying to warn him that if we were looking for support from the school, we would have a battle ahead. (We know a song about that don’t we?)
After all, Mrs Daisy is a respected, educated, middle class, affluent, pillar of the community. She couldn’t possibly just be a bigot like all the others?
The truly frightening thing is that she is a school governor and really and truly, school governors should know better. They should have training and really know what all those words she was using actually mean. If you’re going to bandy around words like “Autism” and “Dyslexia” and “Dyspraxia” you need to actually know what the hell you’re talking about.
So Mr Boudica is firmly in the “slightly offended but she probably meant well and didn’t really understand the realities of the conditions she was talking about” camp. I have a more militant view.
She was talking about my children. I am beyond insulted and offended.
How would you feel?