Stop discriminating against autistic children
To the Editor:
Our son has high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder. Like many children with high-functioning ASD, our son has areas of uncommon skill, interest, and dedication. One of his was musical theatre.
In his young life, he’s performed in 18 different shows. Musical theatre was the one place in his life where he could be successful and be accepted. Last summer, our son was recruited by the Rose Valley Chorus & Orchestra for its production of The Mikado. He tried out just like anybody else. RVCO, which knew of his autism but judged him on skill alone, accepted him. Six weeks of rehearsal went by without incident. Our son worked hard and paid close attention. Because he is autistic, he knows that he can interpret language differently than others. So he asked questions of his fellow performers to make sure he had it right. No one ever told him that he was being disruptive.
Then, just two weeks before the show was to open, RVCO kicked our son out. They told us his “autistic behaviors” weren’t “working out.” By “autistic behaviors,” they meant “asking questions.” But no one had ever told him that his questions were distracting. No one ever said they were uncomfortable. RVCO didn’t bother to give our son that feedback. Why? RVCO assumed that because he’s autistic, our son can’t respond meaningfully to constructive criticism. RVCO was wrong. He can and does. But RVCO didn’t even give him a chance. Then, when it got too frustrated because he didn’t change “autistic behaviors” RVCO didn’t tell him to change, RVCO kicked him out.
This may not be a big deal to RVCO, but it is to us. Autistic children like our son face misunderstanding and frustration every day. They’re ridiculed and excluded because their brains process stimuli differently than most people’s brains. When children like our son can find success and belonging, it’s precious. Musical theatre was the one activity where our son knew he would always find success and be accepted. But since RVCO excluded him for “autistic behaviors” without warning, when we’ve asked him if he wants to audition for a show, he’s only given us one answer: “They’ll kick me out because I’m autistic.”
RVCO owes our son an apology. And it must stop its discrimination against autistic children.
Maria Deysher and Michael Heins
Streambank stable; native plants to come
To the Editor:
Thank you for your recent article and photograph publicizing Rose Valley’s streambank stabilization project. The project will stabilize 165 feet of streambank along the Ridley Creek, which will help to reduce the sediment loading in this important waterway. This was made possible by a grant under Pennsylvania’s Growing Greener program. The grant was authored with the help and guidance of the Chester Ridley Crum Watersheds Association (CRC), and CRC is also managing the grant for the borough.
In addition, the grant includes funding for riparian buffer restoration in 2.5 acres along Ridley Creek that had been previously completely infested with Japanese knotweed. Volunteers will remove remaining invasive plant species — especially wineberry — in June, and the area will be replanted with 265 native trees and shrubs in the fall.
Anyone interested in helping out can talk with a member of the Rose Valley Environmental Advisory Council at our native plant sale and spring work day during the morning of May 12 (rain date: May 19). The plant sale will be located behind the Old Mill at 9 Old Mill Lane, Rose Valley.
Rose Valley Borough Council
Letter to WSSD Board
The following letter was addressed to the Board of Directors of the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District.
Dear WSSD Board of Directors:
Swarthmore Borough Council would like to express its support for the “Resolution Against Arming Educators” passed by the Wallingford-Swarthmore Board of School Directors on February 26, 2018 in response to the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida. We applaud your focus on safety and security improvements, and on efforts to address the mental health needs of our young people. We understand that Strath Haven High School will be offering educational assemblies on school safety to students, and that both high school and middle school students will be allowed to recognize and remember the shooting victims of Stoneman Douglas High School by walking out of class on March 14, 2018. We support these actions and your decision allowing the students to participate responsibly without repercussions.
Very truly yours,
David J. Creagan, President
Swarthmore Borough Council