Autism is once again at the center of a battle on when special needs kids should be allowed to try to fit in.
According to a CBS story, a Port St. Lucie, Fla., mother of a 5 year old boy with autism said “Morningside Elementary teacher Wendy Portillo had her son’s classmates say what they didn’t like about 5-year-old Alex. She says the teacher then had the students vote, and voted Alex, who is being evaluated for Asperger’s syndrome — an autism spectrum disorder — out of the class by a 14-2 margin.”
Said the Chicago Sun-Times, “After each classmate was allowed to say what they didn’t like about Alex the teacher said they were going to take a vote, Barton said. They said he was ‘disgusting’ and ‘annoying,’ Barton said.
“He was incredibly upset,” she said. “The only friend he has ever made in his life was forced to do this.”
The teacher’s side of the story isn’t out yet, because the school board asked her not to talk to the press, but she’s been “reassigned.”
This story, of course, follows closely on the heels of a situation in Bertha, Minn., where a Catholic church banned a teenager with autism, from attending services in the sanctuary.
This week’s New York Magazine features a story on the “new autism activism.”
These activists argue that autism is not an illness but an alternative way of being. The preferred terminology among disability activists is to speak of a “person with deafness” rather than a “deaf person,” or a “person with dwarfism” rather than a dwarf. But Sinclair has said that “person-first” terminology denies the centrality of autism and has compared “person with autism” to describing a man as a “person with maleness.”