I read with interest the article published by the Times (Feb. 16), "Parents, educators frustrated. Little accountability when it comes to autism."
Statistics show us that the number of children with autism has been growing every year. As a parent of an autistic child in the Chilliwack School District, the article left me both humbled by the passion and dedication that (EAs) Education assistants like Kathi Friesen pour into our children's lives on a daily basis, as well as, concerned with the lack in actions and responses brought forward by the school district regarding the accountability and consistency in the education of these brilliant, and yet, far too often misunderstood children.
Any family with an autistic child knows the endless amount of energy it takes to provide their child with care for their basic necessities.
There is an emotional toll that goes with endless worry over their child's personal safety, societal misconceptions pertaining to their child's behaviour and patience required as they work through the various skill sets for their child's development.
It is my hope that the Chilliwack School District will take an equally reasonable amount of care to address concerns raised by parents and teachers in the accountability and consistency of the education of our "special gems".
It is true that students with autism can succeed socially, behaviourally and academically with the right programs and strategies.
I believe that it is imperative that these children get the best of education and support early in life, as an early intervention will help as a preventive measure, and in giving them a strong pace in social and academic development through their formative years.
I would like to put forward a suggestion for consideration in the matter. I would suggest that an "ad hoc" committee be formed to look into how to better serve these children and that the committee look into a restructuring that could find a better balance of inclusion and resource room group work, facilitate more competent programming and problem solving and promote (RT) resident teacher and (EA) education assistant accountability.
I also believe that on Pro D days, teachers should be required to take a workshop on autism if they have a child with autism in their classroom; and EAs should be given a forum to collaborate on successful educational strategies they have used.
I believe that the system should be accountable to the parents and students and that every child can learn, grow and deserves quality education.
Ben Besler Chilliwack