Classroom Intern Reports Child Abuse, Is Discredited Because Of Her Asperger's

Illustration for article titled Classroom Intern Reports Child Abuse, Is Discredited Because Of Her Aspergers

A Towson University student has posted a YouTube video saying she saw her mentor teacher hit and kick 3-year-old autistic students. After reporting the abuse she was suspended, and now school officials are suggesting Asperger's syndrome is affecting her teaching.

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The student, who goes by the username "motleyprism," posted this video yesterday:

As she explains, while student teaching in a special education classroom at Baltimore City's Thomas Johnson Elementary, she witnessed her supervising teacher shouting in children's faces, taking their lunches away, grabbing them violently, and kicking them to the ground. She reported what she saw and the principal told the children's parents, but she heard that during the meetings, "He also said to discount what I say because I'm on the autism spectrum, therefore I must be mentally deficient, I might be lying."

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As horrible as that is, the problem goes beyond a principal trying to cover up a scandal in his own school. Her advisors at Towson questioned her story, and the Dean of Education told her to stop talking about it. She was temporarily removed from the internship during the investigation, but even after it was determined that her allegations were true, she wasn't placed in another student teaching position. Though having Asperger's syndrome was never an issue before, now Towson officials want to investigate whether her disability is affecting her ability to be in an internship.

After the video was posted on Reddit, users starting contacting journalists in Baltimore. So far only one reporter from Fox 45 News has written back to say they're investigating.

At this point there's no way to corroborate the intern's claims, and if she's telling the truth, that adds another disturbing layer to the story. There have been no reports of a teacher hitting students at Thomas Johnson Elementary, meaning that if the woman really was removed from the classroom, officials were able to cover up the story until now.

Thankfully, it seems the disgusting way her advisors are handling the situation hasn't dissuaded her from becoming a teacher. No one should have suggested that Asperger's syndrome made the intern an unreliable witness, but particularly not college professors who know her and are familiar with autism spectrum disorders. Clearly, this young woman already has more bravery and integrity than the educators who are supposed to be supporting her.

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Abuse of Children With Autism in School [YouTube]
Girl With Asperger's Studying To Be A Special Ed Teacher Encounters Abuse Of Autistic Children [Reddit]

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DISCUSSION

katieupsidedown
katieupsidedown

Unfortunately I don't think it's that uncommon for good people to be discouraged from becoming teachers.

When I decided I wanted to teach high school, I never received supportive comments from friends or family. Women I knew who worked as teachers told me not to do it. But I loved teaching. My life had been changed and probably saved by some amazing teachers I had, and I wanted to give that gift back to the world.

I did very well in my education classes in college and had full support from my professors to do my internship, which I did at my old high school, working with some of the same women I'd admired in school.

My internship had some flaws, though. I was the only intern in the program at that school who had an academic major, all the other interns were future coaches, and they excluded me from things a lot. They belittled my opinions in class discussion, made plans for lunches and study sessions to which everyone was invited except me, and refused to help me on partner projects.

One day, they all skipped class, even the 40 year old non-traditional student, and went to lunch together. I was the only person who didn't know. They all got caught and got in trouble.

I went to our supervising professor and told her my concerns - I felt left out of the group and disrespected. She told me that she didn't think anyone had a problem with me, I was a good student who did great work, and I should stay in the program.

When my internship ended, I got rave reviews from both the teachers I'd been working with and passed my practice exam, but at my exit review, my supervising professor told me I shouldn't teach.

In fact, the words she used were "unemployable" and "constant disruption during classes" and she even accused me of multiple dress code infractions. It was literally so far out of left field that I just turned around and left without saying a word. There was nothing I could say. Never before in my life had I ever been accused of being disruptive, and I wore slacks and button-downs to class every day, so I'm still not sure where the dress code remarks came from. It was like she had completely confused me with another student entirely.

Rather than TAing, I graduated early and without teaching certification. I still haven't gone back to my old school 2 years later because I'm embarrassed to tell the old teachers who supported and encouraged me that I'm not teaching and why. I just continue in the field knowing that I'd spend the rest of my life working with people like the professor and the students from my internship program.