Teaching Children with Autism, continued

Teaching Children with Autism, continued

“A Call to Conscience”

It is said that those who don’t remember history are doomed to repeat it. In 1933, Adolph Hitler was elected Chancellor of Germany. Drawing on Europe’s long-standing anti-Semitism, “One of the first laws that affected Jewish students was the ‘Law against Overcrowding in German schools and universities’ that restricted the number of Jewish children in schools, not to exceed 1.5 percent of the total number of students.” In 1938, German Jewish children were prohibited from attending German schools and, beginning in 1942, the segregated Jewish schools, facing steadily deteriorating conditions and increasing Nazi pressure, were finally closed.

It is estimated that more than one million Jewish children were killed during what has come to be known as the Holocaust. The first group of children to be targeted by the Nazis for extermination were disabled children described as “useless eaters”. They were taken away from their parents under the guise of receiving the latest medical attention and maybe a cure. In fact, they were part of a top secret euthanasia program.

After the invasion of Poland in 1939, Jewish men, women and children were rounded up and forced to live in ghettos established by the Germans. Many died of starvation or disease. Then in December 1941, the Germans began the “Final Solution”. The ghettos were cleared and Jews moved to the extermination camps. Many children died on the trains or on arrival in the gas chambers. Two camps – Auschwitz and Majdanek – operated a selection policy where the fittest were chosen for slave labour, while babies, small children and their mothers were sent straight to the gas chambers. All of this was done with the best of intentions. Hitler had a grand plan to “improve the human race,” and no one was going to be allowed to stand in his way!

Yesterday, I attended a rally in front of the Ontario legislature, protesting the Ontario Liberal government’s plan to eliminate from eligibility for Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) anyone over the age of four, “because IBI works best for younger children.” This has been presented by the government as involving “population-level ethical considerations” rather than “individual-level ethical considerations” – creating an expendable population (children age five and up) for the sake of implementing a new “grand plan.”

I am sorry, but this is not the Canada into which I was born.  We don’t designate expendable groups of children, regardless of how great our plan for the rest of the population.  Kathleen Wynne has to re-think what they are doing, before these vulnerable children are written off, since that cannot be allowed to happen.

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