Conor loves his so called "segregated" school experience. Every day, as I have pictured on this blog many times, Conor packs his back pack and lunch for school and parks them in front of the door to get ready for school the next day.
At school Conor starts his day in a Resource Centre with other students with challenges. It is a wonderful environment for him to start the day, for breaks and for certain types of life skills activities. There are adults with experience and skills for handling the unexpected challenges supervising and managing the Resource Centre. It is a warm and welcoming environment and ensures security for students like our Conor. Conor receives his primary ABA based instruction in a cubicle adjacent to other students also receiving such instruction. His aide, who provides the instruction, was trained at the excellent UNB-CEL Autism Intervention Training program and his ABA based instruction is a critically important part of Conor's school day.
Conor does NOT like shaves and haircuts. Sensory issues are long recognized by health authorities like the American Psychiatric Association as a condition that accompanies autism. Challenges with sensory issues will now be expressly included as a diagnostic criterion, although not a mandatory criterion, in the DSM5's new Autism Spectrum Disorder. Challenges with sensory issues, including flashing lights and loud sounds, are recognized by major theatre chains that put on special autism friendly showings of some movies to accommodate those sensory challenges. Challenges with sensory issues are why we removed Conor from the mainstream classroom where he came home every day with self inflicted bite marks on his hands and wrists. Challenges with sensory issues are why Conor receives his instruction in a quiet area outside the mainstream classroom.
Conor loves his so called "segregated" schooling. Conor's experience, the DSM autism criteria, the successful accommodation of his specific autism challenges, the accommodation of other autistic children by theatre chains will have no impact on the rigid, locked mindset of New Brunswick's extreme inclusion ideologues but it is reality. If only the extreme inclusion ideologues were still capable of looking at the evidence and understanding that alternative environments like Conor's Leo Hayes High School resource centre, and his individualized ABA instruction area are in fact an accommodation of his autism spectrum disorder challenges.
I have referred to authorities like the American Psychiatric Association. The APA recognizes in its new Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnostic criteria (B.4.) that some, but not all, children with autism will have sensory challenges. So too the Autism Society New Brunswick, during the MacKay Inclusion review informed Professor Wayne MacKay of its position that some autistic students can learn in the mainstream classroom and some can not. It is necessary to look at the evidence in each case and provide the appropriate learning environment based on that evidence.
In Conor's case no one knows the evidence better than his Mom and Dad. If Education and Early Development Minister Jody Carr or Extreme Inclusion Icon Gordon Porter think differently then I ask them whether they think they could safely provide Conor with a shave and haircut? I don't think they would try ... and in all fairness ... I wouldn't let them.