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NYT: A School Put an Autistic Boy’s Desk in a Bathroom, Setting Off a Debate on Stigmas


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Eleven-year-old Lucas Goodwin arrived at his middle school in Washington State last week only to find that his seat was in a new place: a bathroom.

 

His mother, Danielle Goodwin, who had asked the school for a quiet place for her son to work because he is autistic and has an autoimmune disorder, posted a photo on Facebook of his desk over a toilet.

 

“My son was humiliated, embarrassed, and disgusted at this inhumane suggestion that he work in a bathroom,” she wrote in the post, which has been shared and commented on thousands of times.

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The school, Whatcom Middle School in Bellingham, faced fierce criticism for its decision, which reflected how students with autism can sometimes be stigmatized for seeking special accommodations.

 

Greg Baker, the superintendent of Bellingham Public Schools, said in a statement on Friday that staff members had been “trying to seek a solution to temporarily repurpose a room,” adding that it had been “used as storage, not as an active restroom.”

 

“We are all probably aware that state funding for schools is limited, particularly with regards to construction, and thus schools often have limited space to meet students’ instructional and social-emotional needs,” he continued.

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Ms. Goodwin had asked the school to find her son a quiet place so he could concentrate, an accommodation he had been provided in elementary school. Based on conversations with school staff, Ms. Goodwin believed they could find an appropriate space, like an empty office, Ms. McMinimee said.

 

After the school refused to move Lucas out of the bathroom and into the library, Ms. Goodwin took him home, where he has been since the incident, Ms. McMinimee said.

 

Ms. McMinimee said she hoped the school would conduct an investigation into the teacher’s decisions as a human resources matter and as a violation of the federal civil rights law against disability discrimination.

 

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/24/us/autistic-boy-bathroom-toilet-desk.html

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As a father of an autistic kid who also has OCD and Sensory Processing Disorder, this is why we homeschool. Because he can learn better in the quiet environment and get one-on-one teaching. As far as stigma and stuff, we've raised him to not be embarrassed of who he is and how God made him. He's not afraid to wear his 3M ear muffs in public if too noisy.

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9 minutes ago, TheDoyler23 said:

While probably not malicious, the school is clearly in the wrong here. 

 

"Oh it was used for storage and not an active bathroom, so it's ok" 

 

Are you ****ing kidding me? 

And still in the wrong. Kids are assholes. How long until some kid busts into his private space claiming they got to drop a deuce.

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1 hour ago, TheDoyler23 said:

While probably not malicious, the school is clearly in the wrong here. 

 

What makes you think its not malicious? Making a kid work in the bathroom? You would get better results putting him in the principles office or the teachers lounge. Especially if the goal was for it to be temporary. 

 

A group of educators, especially of children, have better foresight then to put a child with special needs in a bathroom. They absolutely do. They chose to do this to him for a reason. 

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5 hours ago, Llevron said:

 

What makes you think its not malicious? Making a kid work in the bathroom? You would get better results putting him in the principles office or the teachers lounge. Especially if the goal was for it to be temporary. 

 

A group of educators, especially of children, have better foresight then to put a child with special needs in a bathroom. They absolutely do. They chose to do this to him for a reason. 

 

I think that's a serious accusation. This strikes me much more as being tone deaf and/or ignorant than malicious. 

 

It does very much bother me though...no excuse for sticking a kid in a bathroom. 

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2 hours ago, TD_washingtonredskins said:

 

I think that's a serious accusation. This strikes me much more as being tone deaf and/or ignorant than malicious. 

 

It does very much bother me though...no excuse for sticking a kid in a bathroom. 

I will give them the benefit of the doubt on motive. I was just talking to my wife (former teacher) about this. She said due to overcrowding and over-zealous attempts at full inclusion, many public schools no longer have dedicated quiet rooms for special kids like this to retreat to.

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How many adults at the school were part of this decision making?

 

no one thought that, given it’s a bathroom, maybe the parents should be included in the conversation before just sending the child there?

 

im normally sympathetic to the educators... this looks bad... 

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The only way I could rationalize this would be if there was no water hooked up and it was truly just an "inactive" bathroom used for storing supplies or something.  But f it flushes, you know someone's been in there.

 

You know the rule with bathrooms.  "If it flushes they will come."

 

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