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She said what!

Senator Hanson recently implied that children on the autistic spectrum should be shunted off to ‘special schools’. However Hanson wants to spin it, she said

These kids have a right to an education, by all means, but, if there are a number of them, these children should go into a special classroom and be looked after and given that special attention,

Most of the time the teacher spends so much time on them they forget about the child who is straining at the bit and wants to go ahead in leaps and bounds in their education.

That child is held back by those others, because the teachers spend time with them.

I am not denying them. If it were one of my children I would love all the time given to them to give them those opportunities. But it is about the loss for our other kids.

I think that we have more autistic children, yet we are not providing the special classrooms or the schools for these autistic children.

In case you believe the ABC is biased – this link will take you the same text in a Fairfax publication, or you could try The Guardian here.

Hanson claims she was taken out of context – the context seems pretty clear here. It is an attempt by an irrelevant media manipulator to be seen to have a position on the latest ‘hot button’ issue.

There has been lots of outrage, mostly by those who have some idea of what they are talking about including Labor MP Emma Husar who has a son with autism. It is well worth watching the entire clip.

Fairfax reports that a number of people who actually do have a clue absolutely disagree with Hanson’s ill-informed attempt at bigotry. For example

Children and Young People with Disability Australia chief executive Stephanie Gotlib labelled the Senator’s comments “ill-informed and deeply offensive”.

“Senator Hanson should also be mindful that access to inclusive education is a human right,” she said.

“Ignorant remarks such as these demonstrate that she clearly needs to take up this offer as soon as possible.”

Fiona Sharkey, chief executive of Amaze (Autism Victoria), accused Senator Hanson of “advocating for a more segregated school environment rather than an inclusive one”.

In response to Senator Hanson’s speech, Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, read out an email to Parliament from a parent of a child with an intellectual disability.

“To hear one of our parliamentarians argue that kids with disabilities don’t belong in mainstream classes doesn’t shock me – but it does break my heart all over again,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter how many times it has happened before I feel the knife twist again.”

You would expect the Federal Education Minister, Simon Birmingham, would be one of the first to decry Hanson’s attempt at relevance. He didn’t. Even though

Dr David Roy, a lecturer at the University of Newcastle’s School of Education, said studies had shown “the exact opposite” of Senator Hanson’s comments.

“Children with a disability may have a deficit in one area, but will often and regularly have an asset in the other so they can support other children in the classroom who aren’t good with language or literacy, who aren’t good with maths … and see an alternative way of doing something.”

You see, Hanson’s political party which somehow claims to represent all Australians despite only receiving around 500,000 votes across the country (and attempting to justify a Queensland Senator, Malcolm Roberts, elected on 77 direct votes) is voting in favour of what is so far Turnbull and Birmingham’s single success – Gonski 2.0.

Gonski 2.0 is not as good as the ALP’s Gonski policy as significant funding has been removed from the plan to adequately fund school education across Australia – but it is a start. For some reason the ALP and Greens couldn’t see the wood for the trees and didn’t vote for something they could ‘re-adjust’ following a possible election victory inside the next couple of years – so Birmingham needed the Pauline Hanson’s One Nation xenophobic and narrow minded Senators to pass the legislation, as well as a number of other cross-bench Senators.

Sean Kelly, who writes for The Monthly, calls the Liberal Party response out for what it is – a complete abrogation of the requirement to govern for all. As Kelly suggests

That’s why you should ignore any Liberal MP expressing outrage this week about Hanson’s latest comments on autism. The comments should not have been a shock. She’s the same Hanson she was when Cash hugged her, when Abbott recorded a video with her, when Turnbull indicated his party might preference her, and when Sinodinos said her party had changed.

Hanson wants a royal commission into whether Islam is a religion. She has encouraged parents to “do their own research” on whether to get their kids vaccinated. She supports Vladimir Putin, whose government murders and assassinates people. And that’s before you get to the views of her other senators, or candidates.

Kelly goes on to comment

As with all of Hanson’s rhetoric, this was about the ugly, ugly politics of envy. It was classic Hanson: feeding off the resentment felt by those doing it tough towards those doing it even tougher. Hanson’s entire governing philosophy is that there is only so much sympathy (and government funding) to go around, and her voters deserve the lion’s share.

And he’s right. Hanson has been preaching hatred and bigotry against groups of Australians for years. It is all that she knows how to do. As far as representing ‘average’ Australians – that’s crap – Hanson and her party have been attached to the teat of public funding of election candidates for over a quarter of a century.

In the world according to Hanson, for you to be acceptable to the community you must be exactly like her. Despite claiming to be an ‘average’ Australian, her only real job for the past 25 years or so is running for political office. She attempts to divide our community on racial stereotypes and seemingly will do anything to get her name on the front page of the paper. If she isn’t just stupid, she is manipulating and conniving without any real demonstrated ability to put her policies into legislation.

At the very worst, any class with a mixture of non-ASD and ASD students would teach all the students the ability to understand and practice tolerance. Non-ASD kids may have to wait a few minutes longer for the entire class to finish a task, the ASD kids would learn that others don’t necessarily have an extremely detailed knowledge of subjects that are near and dear to them.

Fairfax reports that Autism advocacy bodies estimate that one in 100 Australians are diagnosed with autism and Emma Husar made the statement linked above outside Parliament House the other day – it finished with the following words, addressed directly to all the estimated 164,000 Australians who register on the Autistic Spectrum

even on the days that are hard – when you’re frustrated, and your disability makes you angry – you are still better than she is on her best day.

Husar is correct. Australians diagnosed with ASD are better on their worst day than Hanson is on her best. It’s high time the Liberal Party found a backbone and treated Hanson as the irrelevance she truly is, it might help them regain some popularity from the genuinely ‘average’ Australians who believe in tolerance and an inclusive society and who rightly believe Hanson will never speak for them’.

Disclaimer – the writer’s daughter has been diagnosed with ASD. She attends a mainstream high school and is achieving average or better academic and behavioural results in the same classes as her non-ASD age cohort.

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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  1. Keitha Granville

    Thank you, beautifully put. Children will do their best in the world with the world in their classrooms.

  2. Clean livin

    I believe Pauline should stick to speaking things she knows something about!

    As they say, “Silence is Golden”!

  3. Joseph Carli

    Hanson is completely out of her intellectual depth..often..too often. You can tell by the way she bowls these bouncers just to keep the temperature up with her as centre of the’s like she’s back in the local fish and chippery mouthing her opinion to any customer who comes through the door..The only thing missing from her conversation in the Senate is the colloquialisms : “Y’know!?” and “I reckon…”

  4. 2353

    @ Keitha Graville – You’re correct, tolerance and an understanding of others will advance our society – ignorance and bigotry won’t.
    @ Clean livin – Post of the day; thanks. I literally ‘lol’led!
    @ Joseph Carli – she would have been a good cab driver too!

  5. Anniebee

    While I agree with 99% of what is stated here – that Hanson is bad news – there are rare occasions that even the most idiotic of us / them, make a statement that might ( just MIGHT ) have a smidgin of value to it.

    Hanson made her usual hash of a ‘political statement’ – and she never makes any statement, except to garner more publicity for herself – headlines — she loves ’em. But that’s her.

    However, it raised a red flag for me … that being the incidence of bullying in schools, rampant these days, and the percentage of autistic children in schools today, against the actual percentage of non-autistic children who attend same schools. It is a very small % of autistic children. This leaves one wondering if just 1 ( or maybe 2 ) children in any classroom, might be autistic, therefore outside what the other kids consider ‘the norm’ !! A class of 20 might contain 50% of decent, well raised kids, and 50% of little bastard bullies, plus 1 autistic child. Not good.

    Our incumbent government comes to the aid of enquiry on this one – whether it is factual or not, I leave the reader to determine. On the following link is a box showing the incidence of autism in schools, and the %’s of various degrees of that autism. …. It does not paint a great picture, and both links are as at 2015.

    Another (gov’t) link on autism :

    On the 3rd line [ first link ] of images with quotes, it was stated that “around 4 out of 5 children with autism, had difficulties at school”. …. please read the stats ( although, being page(s) from the current government, I would be a little skeptical about the figures – but that’s a personal thing – I am anti L-NP and anti-Hanson ).

    I can however, imagine some of those difficulties. Bullying and put-downs being the worst.

    Perhaps a compromise could be reached, not because of Hansons’ words, but because the subject has been raised before, but not maybe, correctly addressed.

    That special schools should indeed be set up for autistic children but only used in conjunction with usual school education e.g. 3 days special school, 2 days normal – or vice versa …. 3 days normal schooling, with 2 days special school. This would give the autistic children respite from nasties that no doubt are perpetrated by the bullies that abound in EVERY school; take pressure off teachers who through their kindness and concern, would give more attention to the autistic child ( thereby, through no fault of their own – possibly promote even more resentment by the more aggressive of kids ) … and encourage specific schooling for the autistic child, so that when they returned to the ‘traditional’ schooling curriculum, they would be refreshed and more relaxed within their own world – with ALL their ‘normal’ classmates.

    I have had difficulty finding a word that equates to ‘normal’ in this post. ‘Traditional’ and ‘ordinary’ are words that come to mind, but none of them are adequate.

    My daughter-in-law is a secondary school teacher, and she has had to deal with outright brutality, personal threats ( twice, knives ), bullying to the worst degree, totally undisciplined behaviour, weapon brandishing and wanton vandalism. This behaviour was not a blight on her abilities as a teacher, ( many of her students really loved her ) but the brute faction was not able to be appealed to. Nor would they be, when confronted with an autistic child / teen. My d-i-law left the school ( wild West of Melbourne ) that was so out of control, for another post – where she is happy dealing with 90% of good, polite and kindly kids, intent on learning well.

    Just a few thoughts thrown in here …………

  6. paulwalter

    Oddly enough, at the time I wondered if it hadn’t been a misfire. Hanson is clumsy with language in a way only Tony Abbott can match- in fact Abbott surpasses in a way,, given he also had the benefit of a fair education

    So it was with interest that I read the transcript and sure enough they left off the end of comment qualifier, “We are not providing the classrooms or schools”, a point that needed to be directed fairly and squarely at this current mongrel government

    What she had needed to say was, “It is a crime that the government hasn’t budgeted adequately for both ordinary students and special needs children”. In others word she needed to be emphatic, not pussy-footed in revealing the real problem and was interpreted as being brutal over disabled kids, for not being nearly clear enough as to intent in the first place

    I can’t think of a politician who has murdered the beautiful English language as frequently, cruelly and unconsciously as this individual. She just doesn’t seem to think it out, as to what she is trying to say.

    By the way, I am not arguing against the proposition that Hanson is rancorous and envy driven. That is already a given on too many subjects; the suspicion, the paranoia and lack of knowledge and understanding.

    She has enough to answer for as to the malice of some of her comments, the numerous errors can be recited later as misdemeanours to the felonies.

  7. 2353

    @Anniebee & @paulwalter – I’ve read a few comments along similar lines and there seems to be a preconception that the kids are all in this together (which makes Hanson’s comments even less tolerable). My son attends a state primary school that has a designated special needs program where the kids that would be disruptive or detrimental to others in a normal class are taught in smaller groups in different spaces to their age cohort. These areas are also used for targeted assistance to those in the ‘mainstream’ classes where necessary. Children from the ‘mainstream’ and ‘special’ areas share the same playgrounds, sporting equipment and so on. The plan is to have everyone where possible in the ‘mainstream’ classes by the end of Year 6. The success rate is quite high – some of the student leaders in Year 6 each year start their education in the designated rooms. While some of the ASD kids do occasionally have meltdowns on the playground, there is teacher assistance readily available for them and lets face it, people having meltdowns in public places once they have left school is not unusual.

    The beauty of this system is that if some assistance is needed in specific areas, there is no ‘shame’ in going to the studios (the special needs areas) as some of their friends also attend various activities there. It’s also heartening to see kids from across the spectrum of behaviours greet each other every morning when they get to school – it really doesn’t worry them that ‘Eric’ is moderately ASD and goes to a studio instead of Room 25.

    Hanson is wrong on so many levels. There are programs already available for those that need them in the state (public) school system. Schools manage miracles with the funding they get for various programs to ensure that everyone gets the education they need to be productive in later life – and while she talks about not providing classrooms and schools – Australian educators already are. She also made the implication that if the Parliament was going to chuck another $18B at education on top of the existing $88B, it was a waste.

    I wonder if Hanson’s remarks are more valid at high cost private schools. I know some who have children with learning issues that were told there was no place for their child at private schools because of the learning issues (despite being early enough on ‘the enrolment list’ and not refunding the enrolment deposit which is frequently thousands).

  8. astra5

    What a timely piece this is!

    Pauline Hanson has attracted widespread condemnation for her remarks about how autistic children ought to receive their education, particularly from journalists and commentators whose children are autistic or otherwise disadvantaged.

    Many have tried to analyse her mindset and her motivation.

    We are aware of her propensity to show her ignorance, and to make outrageous statements because of her lack of knowledge. I suspect in this instance ignorance was a factor.

    We also know how lacking in empathy she is. “Hard as nails’ is an apt description of her demeanour. I imagine that lack of empathy towards autistic children and their parents has enabled her to make her remarks without compunction.

    We also know that she is as cunning as a fox and as vicious as a viper. Was then the main driving force behind her remarks simply, and perhaps principally, political opportunism?

    She said many parents had complained to her that their ‘normal’ children, wanting ‘to go ahead in leaps and bounds’, were being ‘held back’ because teachers were spending time on the autistic children in their mixed classes. I don’t doubt that some of her constituency made these complaints. Given that this is the case, were her actions designed to garner support, and votes, by reflecting voter anger against the system of integrated classrooms where both autistic and other children learn together, a modus operandi that has been shown, over and again, to be successful in many ways.

    My guess is that harvesting votes was Hanson’s prime motive; her ignorance and her lack of empathy made that process so much easier. She has shown that she cares not whether she hurts feelings, even the feelings of the vulnerable. Her conscience does not worry or inhibit her as she pursues her political objective of vote harvesting.

    And although she prevaricates when asked about her outburst; although she claims that her remarks ‘were taken out of context’, she will not retract, nor will she apologize. I seldom agree with Peter Dutton, but I did when he said: “If you expect her to apologize, you don’t know Pauline Hanson’.

    She is ignorant and she lacks empathy, but above all else she is a casehardened politician relentlessly, shamelessly and brazenly seeking political advantage.

    She will not change. She will go on making statements that are ignorant, unfeeling and careless, so long as she believes votes will follow.

    It’s easy to say: “Let’s get used to it”, but Hanson IS difficult for normal people to stomach.

  9. townsvilleblog

    Speaking as a parent of a student whose education was destroyed by an autistic child because he was a constant distraction in the class room throwing chairs and desks and upsetting the class, he actually threatened to burn our house down with my daughter in it when she was just 13 years of age. At that age young minds are impressible and she lived in fear of not waking up one morning which in turn gave her terrible depression and she could no longer attend school. The school could do nothing because he was a ‘special needs’ child. We went to the police and they could not do anything either for the same reason.
    This boy went on to stab his ‘friend’ with a sword among other crimes he committed and will now go to prison, all because he didn’t get any discipline at home and school were not allowed to give him any either. These students with autism should have a separate school where they could receive discipline and intensive supervision not only for the sake of the other students, but for their own good, in my humble opinion. My daughter will not get the education she missed out on due to this autistic boy (now a man) back, before his threats she was the best student in her grade consisting of three separate classes, now her depression holds her back in life.

  10. havanaliedown

    Townsvilleblog, you’ll get no takers I’m afraid… in fact you’ll be branded a “Hansonite bigot” if you mention the above a fourth time. It’s very cold outside the NeoLeftist fascist orthodoxy. It’s almost Siberia!

  11. helvityni

    I got a bit scared looking at the above picture of Pauline ( Dutton pics have the same effect on me), so before reading the article, I’ll have to go down and make myself another coffee…to give me strength to go on….

  12. Zathras

    Not all autistic children are disruptive in the classroom and not all disruptive children are autistic.
    Also, not all perceived problems have simplistic solutions.

    Your move, Pauline.

  13. astra5

    Thank you for giving us those informative autism links. If only Pauline Hanson would read, digest and understand the facts and their implication for those with autism, for teachers, for schools, and for those who fund them.

    Yet for her, understanding might not be enough to dissuade her from making the ignorant, unfeeling and hurtful comments she does so carelessly.

  14. stephengb2014

    Townsvilleblog, I find your story disturbing, it sounds as though you are not talking about a child with autism but a child who has some other mental issues.
    The fact that you say this child is now an adult in jail also tells me this was not an autistic child but something quite different.
    Then you go on to blame the non disciplining by the parent of this apparently autistic child,

    Bullying in school has always been present and always will be whilst we have people like hanson in the world, actually like you too, you want to blame and punish, if my cjild was having to put up with a situation like you describe I would have pulled them out of that school, why didnt you!

    In short I think your story tells me more about you and your values than it does about the need for segregation of children who are different, ignorance is no excuse when it comes to the education of children.

    I am sorry but I think your story talks to your incompetence and ignorance.

    As for Hanson and indeed those on the Right of politics (including the Right in the ALP). The fact that you are in parliament tells me a lot about the politics of this new Australia, that has graduated from an egalitarian fair go society, to a society of envy and greed.

  15. Anniebee

    @ 2353 ….

    Thank you for your comments. I learned a great deal from them.

    I tend to agree with you that ” I wonder if Hanson’s remarks are more valid at high cost private schools. I know some who have children with learning issues that were told there was no place for their child at private schools because of the learning issues (despite being early enough on ‘the enrolment list’ and not refunding the enrolment deposit which is frequently thousands).”

    The above link provides some interesting insight into the status of ‘private schools’ & others …. in terms of them being businesses – allegedly on a not-for-profit basis. But they would be ruled by a board of governors or trustees, I believe, who would set ‘standards’ for enrolment – which may or may not ( perhaps mostly NOT ) include children who are autistic. … Many ( but not all ) private schools like to ensure a ‘have to be seen to be’ attitude, and would not welcome children with possible learning difficulties. … To put it bluntly, “it might lower the status of the school “. hmmmm !!

    While my daughter-in-law has not had an autistic child in her classes, she sure would know the whys and wherefores of such a situation – – – – and I should have asked her.

    I will ask her.

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