Schooling of the autistic children is a big problem for their parents in the third world countries, especially in Bangladesh. There are few special schools in our country but the numbers are meager in comparison with the number of students. These special schools generally impart behavioral and vocational training and some special therapies to the special needs students.
Few autistic children are capable of undergoing normal stream education with the assistance of some efficient teachers. The special schools take initiative to provide the academic teaching to the capable students as per normal school curriculum.
But the special children face difficulties in appearing in the examinations of the Education Board like Primary School Certificate (PSC) and Junior School Certificate (JSC) examinations as their schools are not permitted to conduct those examinations. So the scope of normal education for the children with autism becomes narrow.
In this article, I will discuss, the problems of schooling of autistic children in Bangladesh in light of the experience of schooling my autistic son.
Admission of autistic children
The parents of the autistic children search for a good special school which can help to bring some kinds of development in their children. But it is very difficult to find out a good and affordable special school within the reach in our country. There are some good schools for special needs children in the city which conduct normal stream education besides their special training and therapies.
There are a few autistic children capable of learning academic lessons on a limited scale with close supervision. If these children get the proper guidance they can adopt the normal stream education very quickly. There are some active teachers who try to teach them the academic lesson as per normal school academic curriculum.
The special schools in our country do not have the permission of conducting the board examinations. So these students have to move to some other normal schools at the time of the board examinations.
The normal school authorities do not like to allow these special children to appear in the examinations from their schools. They think that the result of the autistic children might have a negative impact on the overall result of their school.
Major schooling problems:
Very less number of government run dedicated special schools for autistic children.
There is some privately managed special school throughout the country but the number is very less and the tuition fee is very high.
The special schools do not have the permission of holding any board examination. These schools are dependent on the normal stream schools for those examinations.
Schooling of my autistic son
Like every parent, we also became very helpless, when our only son was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) along with Attention Deficiency Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in the year 2000. The doctor advised us to get him admitted to a normal stream school for his speedy development.
My Autistic child in his school
But, we could not manage his admission in any normal school for mainstream education. He was never accepted in the normal school due to his hyper activeness. The fellow students used to laugh at him for his demeanor. Even the teachers were not interested in accepting him in the classroom due to his autistic behavior.
Finding no alternatives, we decided to put him in a special school. There were also problems of getting a good special school as there were only a few schools in Dhaka city before 17 years.
PSC and JSC Examination
Sometimes, blessings come in disguise. Soon we realized that he had a level of intellect to carry on normal education besides his focus on art. His mother decided boldly to take the challenge of teaching him lessons of normal education. The teachers of the special school came forward to teach him the curriculum of mainstream education along with some other autistic children.
By the grace of the almighty and with the utmost effort of his mother and his teachers Mahi could pass both the Primary School Certificate (PSC) and Junior School Certificate (JSC) examinations successfully. But we had to face lots of problems to find out a normal school which allowed him to appear in those examinations.
Initially, the school authority of the normal school did not want to allow him to appear in the examination from their school assuming that the bad result of the autistic children can have a negative impact on the overall result of the school.
However, after lots of persuasions, Mahi was permitted to appear in the board examination from a normal school. Though he was allowed there by the school authority, he was not cordially accepted by the teachers of the school. He was allotted a seat alone in an isolated room. However, we are very happy to see that he has passed class VIII successfully. At the same time, I am afraid that the efforts of everybody will go in vain if he does not get any reward for his hard work.
The UN Resolution, the government policy, the tireless efforts of the parents and the teachers of the special school support the autistic children to make their way to come to the mainstream. As a result, few autistic students could pass class VIII from a special school.
So, it is expected that the autistic students eligible for appearing in the board examination must be allowed by all schools wherever he wishes to appear in the examination. The concerned authority may make necessary arrangement to implement it rigidly.
The autistic children who pass class VIII may be enrolled in suitable job relaxing the required qualifications for the job to rehabilitate them in the mainstream of life. This will be a great honor to the tireless effort of the autistic children.
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