Father of Autistic Son Displeased With School

Jeremy Piper of Quispamsis says there’s nothing inclusive about an education system that restricts his nine-year-old autistic son Alex to 30 minutes of class time per day.

Piper says the Department of Education has failed to equip its teaching staff and schools to support students with special needs and he’s convinced the students are paying the price.  

“They don’t have the resources,” Piper said.

“They don’t have the training. They don’t have the experience. And they won’t make themselves get it.”

Piper was reacting to what he describes as his son’s suspension on Nov. 2 from Quispamsis Elementary School over a series of violent outbursts, including one that may have caused serious injury to Alex’s educational assistant.

“This is their solution — send him home, don’t deal with it.” …

Piper said that until this month, Alex had no history of violent outbursts and had been going to school full time, with very few issues.

Alex started kindergarten at Milltown Elementary School in St. Stephen, where he was enrolled until last year.

Last year, Piper transferred to the Sussex RCMP detachment but chose a home near Quispamsis Elementary School because he had heard it was one of the best.

Piper shares custody of his two sons with their mother, who also lives in the Kennebecasis Valley.

Piper said Alex’s first year at Quispamsis seemed to go OK.

Then, about six weeks ago, he started hearing vague and conflicting reports about Alex acting violently and outbursts in the classroom.

The most serious complaint seemed to involve Alex’s educational assistant.

“So the first call I got said that Alex pulled his EA by the hair to the ground and she cut her knee,” Piper said.

“Then in our meeting two weeks ago, [Paul Smith, director of schools] said Alex pulled her to the ground by her hair so violently that she dislocated her knee, or pulled something in her knee and she’s going to be out for a number of months.”

Piper said it’s a real concern and that’s why he’d like to see the documentation, but it hasn’t been provided.

“I don’t know if it’s as bad as they say, or whether it happened because they won’t show me anything.”

According to Piper, Alex, who is non-verbal, hasn’t received the resources he needs to manage his behaviour and make the most of his learning opportunities.

Educational assistants don’t get nearly enough training to deal with autism, he said.

And after about 18 months on the wait list, Piper said, Alex has yet to be assigned a speech therapist.

Piper said he purchased an iPad for his son and he also paid for the $340 software that enables Alex to communicate with images and icons, but in the last couple of weeks he noticed it was coming home fully charged.