Monday, April 27, 2009

Australian elementary school uses "cage" for students with autism, other disabilities

From Adelaide Now in Australia:

Disabled students at an Adelaide Hills primary school are being dressed in fluoro vests and sent at breaks to a "caged" playground for their safety.

The startling practice has been revealed by a concerned parent, Jade Brook, who says the same school also has failed to protect her son Michael, who has autism, from being bullied.

Mt Barker South Primary School has fenced a schoolyard play area - dubbed the "cage" by some parents - so younger students with special needs can be properly supervised.The juniors are also being dressed in bright fluoro vests - similar to those worn by council workers - so teachers can monitor them during recess and lunch breaks.

The school has defended the policies, saying it has no boundary fencing, and the vests have the backing of the school community. But some parents and autism advocates have labelled the practice "disgusting" and say it will only make the children bigger targets of bullying.

The school is a mainstream campus but has two classes for students with special needs, such as autism, epilepsy and vision impairment.