Brenden Bradley is not welcome at school.
The 11-year-old hasn’t attended school since early April and probably won’t return to school this year because educational assistants (EA) at Grandview public School refused to work with him.
Bradley is on the Autism Spectrum, he’s non-verbal and low functioning.
His mother, Mandi Bradshaw said the Grand Erie District School Board let her family down.
“I just feel the public school board is ill-equipped,” she said. “They’re not setting up a proper learning environment for him. They are not giving EA’s enough support to deal with my son’s behaviour. I don’t understand how they can expel him for behaviours he has no control over. He doesn’t know what he is doing.”
Bradley, who communicates using a tablet, has exhibited aggressive behaviour, but his parents didn’t know the extent of problems teachers were having in his autism specific classroom until it was too late.
Bradley’s father, Blair Bradley, said he understands why the EA’s don’t want to work with Bradley, but the couple hasn’t experienced the same behavioural problems.
“It’s like he’s a completely different kid at home than the kid they describe,” he said.
He believes the problems may have started when EA’s stopped taking Bradley outside after nutrition breaks.
“We don’t even know how long it’s been since they took him outside. He needs to get the energy out,” he said.
“He is a very active guy,” Bradshaw added. “He loves being outside.”
Kimberly Newhouse, manager of communications and community relations for the Grand Erie District School Board emailed at statement that acknowledged the situation.
“The student is currently not in attendance at school following a Ministry of Labour Work Refusal. The Work Refusal is related to staff safety. Until the Work Refusal process is complete, there is no further information we can provide,” she said.
Dr. Benjamin Klein, a developmental paediatrician at Lansdowne Children’s Centre, who is also Bradley’s doctor, said going to school is critical for Bradley.
“Number one, having a regular routine and learning how to navigate a day- a structured day is pretty important for his ongoing learning and his day to day mental health,” he said.
He said he understands why EA’s would have concerns because children with his level of need require a lot of attention and planning to make sure his physical surrounding meets his needs.
“Every school is different and personnel know their school best. I give recommendations and profiles of a child and work with that child. It’s up to school to decide what happens next,” Klein said. “He’s a guy that would need a high level of or high ratio of care probably a frequent amount of 1 on1 or 2 on 1 supervision. He would need a lot of opportunity for sensory type of activities, movement physical play time outside and Snoezelen room type of intervention and in a situation that physical environment would need some trial and error. A very cluttered room with breakable things is probably not the best place.”
Newhouse’s statement also said the principal has been in touch with Bradshaw and Bradley and hope to get him back into school.
“We are working diligently to get the student back in school as soon as possible,” she said. “While the student is not in attendance at the school, the family can access work and materials from the school for the student.”
It’s not simple for the couple, who are both are shift workers. They don’t know what to do next and hope someone has experienced this before.
“I’m feeling like the school board is copping out. They are not tiring to fix the problem and make accessible learning. The education system is not geared toward kids with different types of learning,” she said. The numbers of autistic kids are only growing. They need to change the learning environment for these kids to be successful.
She thinks EA’s and teachers need more specific training to effectively teach low functioning ASD children.
“There’s not enough training and not enough staff. Just kicking him out instead of helping him. It’s not an environment to help him be successful. We just want the school board to be held accountable for kicking our son out of school this should have been dealt with before EA’s were so done they refused work they should have prepared better.”