For the past two semesters, I have been volunteering in a special needs fifth grade classroom at a public school. The time I have spent in this classroom has made me very disappointed and angry at the public school system.
How is it possible that our taxes are not being properly spent to get children with autism the help they need? I cannot answer this question, but I can just begin to describe the dysfunctional organization of the system.
First, the children in my classroom have different levels of autism, or no autism at all. This makes delivering a lecture very difficult because each student has different learning challenges.
Some children are being potty-trained, other children are being taught to communicate through flash cards and other students are being taught to read, write and do mathematics.
This poses a problem because the teachers cannot deliver a single lesson that caters to all of the students’ educational needs.
Second, the school is understaffed, which leaves only two teachers to teach the 12 students in the class. This is especially challenging when many students in the classroom are non-verbal.
Many children in my classrooms are minorities. This is sometimes unfortunate because their parents do not speak English well enough to understand and request the best alternative for their children. The non-verbal students in the classroom need to get one-on-one time with a professional but the school does not have the funds to provide this aid. In addition, the school does not make an effort to get volunteers. Volunteers could be a great source of help.
It also angers me that they transfer children with behavioral problems from their regular classroom into the special needs classroom. This is unfortunate because most of the students that display disruptive behavior could succeed in the regular classroom if they received the proper extra help. Sadly, once they are placed in the special needs classroom, they fall behind because less material is taught.
I try to be helpful in this disorderly system, but to truly help these children we need more volunteers. It is unfortunate to calculate the number of hours these children waste in their school due to the lack of stimulation, attention and aid they receive. If you are interested in helping, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Only a couple hours a week can make a difference.
Isabella Kizer is a junior majoring in public relations and psychology. She may be contacted at email@example.com.