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Kids on the Spectrum is now Living on the Spectrum

The education system is broken. Our Autistic kids have a right to an education.

The education system has failed us. My child is back to remote learning and I have had enough! Someone needs to be accountable for the fact that my child may never be able to go back to school because of the trauma that the education system has inflicted on them. And, you can not blame the pandemic for this any longer.

Male with dark hear sitting at a computer in a blue shirt. The education system is broken. Our Autistic kids have a right to an education.
Our kids cannot learn, and I have no doubt this will impact their future.

I fear I may never get my child back to school. I am the mother and carer of an autistic child, and their school returned to zoom classes this week due to staff shortages. Frustratingly, I was informed last week that the school would be alternating school attendance via year level due to staff shortages—year 11 one day, then year 12 the next day, and so on. Finally, yesterday we were informed that there are just not enough teachers to continue this, and the school will have to move to online learning once again.

I am not alone; I am receiving messages telling me that this is happening all across the country. There is not enough staff to cover the shortfall due to illness. Our kids cannot learn, and I have no doubt this will impact their future. It has been three years now of disruptive education for our kids, and the crisis unfolding across the country needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. But we can’t blame the pandemic alone anymore. We need to make change now before it is too late for our children.

Adding Fuel to the fire.

Fuelling the current crisis is the fact that teachers are being pushed to the brink. They can no longer fully support themselves, let alone support those students who need additional support and accommodations.. Unfortunately for autistic children and neurodiverse students this only further excludes and alienates them from accessing mainstream school.

Australia is now also faced with the issue of teacher shortages in all areas and subjects. In a recent article in the Age, a Deakin University researcher said the pandemic-induced teacher shortage had heightened the risk of over-reliance on teachers offering classes beyond their expertise.

“With the effects of the pandemic – multiple lockdowns, a reduction in casual relief teachers, absences due to the flu and COVID-19 – the teaching workforce has been under strain. Some principals have resorted to teaching prep classes, and in extreme cases, classes have been cancelled.”

Then add on the unstainable demands on our teachers and there you have it , the perfect storm.

Perfect storm forcing our teachers out.

According to the Australian Teacher Workforce Data National Teacher Workforce Characteristics Report December 2021,

  • 95% of teachers were working unpaid overtime during a typical week.
  • 42% of the full-time teaching workforce reported working for 60 hours or more during a typical week.
  • 87% of teachers cited they intending to leave teaching due to the workload.
  • 67% cited they intend to leave teaching  because it is too stressful and impacting mental health.

Teachers are being pushed to teach classes beyond their expertise. Being asked to sustain work loads that quite frankly they do not get paid enough for. Then, YoYo school closures due to the Flu and the Coronavirus.

Do our neurodivergent students even stand a chance for an inclusive and disability friendly learning environment?

Disability rights

According to the disability act of 2005

“The education provider must take reasonable steps to ensure that the student is able to participate in the courses or programs provided by the educational institution, and use the facilities and services provided by it, on the same basis as a student without a disability, and without experiencing discrimination.”

Unfortunately, these fundamental rights are not met in this current pandemic climate. And, to be fair, this is not the fault of our teachers. The education system itself is failing our kids. It is placing our teachers in an impossible situation while they turn their backs on our kid’s fundamental right to an education.

If you are experiencing barriers in accessing a fair and inclusive education for your child, we would like to hear from you at info@livingonthespectrum.com

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