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Hanson controversy around autistic students: Amaze responds

Posted on 22 June 2017 under News

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One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson created enormous controversy when she this week told parliament students with disabilities should be removed from mainstream classrooms.

“These kids have a right to an education by all means,” Senator Hanson said.

“But if there is a number of them, these children should go into a special classroom and be… given that special attention because most of the time the teachers spend so much time on them.

“They forget about the child who … wants to go ahead (in) leaps and bounds in their education.”

The comments are disappointing and antiquated

Amaze CEO Fiona Sharkie told The Age that Senator Hanson was “advocating for a more segregated school environment rather than an inclusive one”.

Hanson: out of step with public opinion.

Following is more comment from our CEO, including excerpts from an interview with ABC radio.

“Senator Hanson’s comments regarding autistic students are highly disappointing and antiquated.

Almost all autistic students face some sort of restriction through their education – we need to address this through embracing inclusion in our schools.

There is great value to all children when our classrooms reflect the true diversity of community.

Amaze believes that all autistic students should have access to an inclusive education system that welcomes diversity, meets their needs and enables them to fully participate and contribute: socially, emotionally and academically.

People are lighting up our Facebook page because, you can imagine, they’re very disappointed with Senator Hanson’s comments, mostly because they are pretty misguided.

There are countless reports and global evidence that overwhelmingly point to the benefits of mainstream schooling for autistic students… not just for the autistic students, but for students more broadly.

We know diversity is good and, after all, schools are a microcosm of our broader society.

We all have differences and we all need to be supported accordingly. She’s (Hanson) wrong, really, about that.

Their (autistic children) educational outcomes are very poor compared to other people with a disability.

One in three autistic students achieve Year 10 or less. They want to be in schools and they want to be in employment.

Kids with additional needs often give the most reward

There are a number of reports that show funding and support in schools is inadequate for autistic students, but it’s not just funding, it’s about leadership in schools.

We do see amazing results in mainstream schools where principals and teachers are working really hard and have learned how to better support autistic students. It can happen.

Where we need to start is equipping teachers and principals so that when teachers do their education training (they have training in autism).

We’ve had some comments from teachers on our Facebook page and one said kids with additional needs often give the most reward in terms of their learning and outcomes.

She’s (Hanson) out of step with what most people think. Seventy-two percent of Australians think more needs to be done in schools (to support autistic students).”

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