How to Educate Children with Autism: Put Them In the Bathroom?

How could a teacher even consider assigning a student to sit in the bathroom? One autistic sixth-grader from Bellingham School District in Washington was put in the bathroom, where his desk was placed over a toilet.

Lucas Goodwin, 11, has autism and a pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder associated with streptococcus infections. He does not thrive in loud settings and needs to nap periodically during the day.

When his mother Danielle Goodwin stopped in to check on Lucas, who she thought was going to individual sessions in the library, she discovered that his teacher had plans to use classroom space creatively for him. She quickly removed her son from school that day to spare him the embarrassment.

“Yes, that is my son’s desk over a toilet,” Danielle Goodwin wrote in a post on Facebook. “She also provided a camping mat and pillow for him to nap … on the bathroom floor.”

School officials were quick to spin their analysis of the events. Superintendent Greg Baker’s response was posted on the school’s website.

“We are all probably aware that state funding for schools is limited, particularly with regards to construction, and thus schools often have limited space to meet students’ instructional and social-emotional needs,” Greg Baker, the superintendent of Bellingham Public Schools, said in a statement posted on the school’s website. “We are always looking for creative ways to best use our facilities to meet students’ needs. For example, throughout the years in order to provide full-time kindergarten we have sometimes converted staff lounges into temporary classrooms and principals’ offices into meeting spaces.

“This current situation is an example of staff trying to seek a solution to temporarily repurpose a room. To our knowledge, the room had been used as storage, not as an active restroom. It didn’t turn out to be an idea that was used; no students spent time in the repurposed space as part of their school day.”

Support for the family trickled in from all over social media. Some have even suggested that Danielle Goodwin file a lawsuit and press the school to fire the teacher.


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