‘autistic kids should be removed from mainstream classes,’ Pauline Hanson has reached a new low.

In suggesting that ‘autistic kids should be removed from mainstream classes,’ Pauline Hanson has reached a new low.

The view Hanson reflects is one of ignorant prejudice, scarcity and austerity.

Yep, my tackers with ASD are sometimes disruptive or especially emotional. They have painful struggles. This is easing with time, skill, therapy and care.

By embracing students with additional needs we all grow. We grow in empathy and we grow more taxpayers.

Teachers need the skills and training to support all kids who go under the radar in mainstream (as well as those who are diagnosed). Our kids have potential whether in the mainstream, support classes or special schools.

Too often the potential of PWD is wasted. Colouring-in and DVDs are no substitute for growing into the challenges of a mainstream cohort. Students with additional needs deserve stimulus and opportunity as well as specialised help.

That was the vision of Gonski for Disability. A whole generation is missing out on this. It benefits everyone.

The Finnish education model creates a global brains trust.

Our system creates a workforce that is less innovative, less capable and less competitive on a global scale.

We need to skill up, not down, if we are to meet the challenges of modernity and artificial intelligence.

My firstborn with ASD in Year 10 recently undertook a standard school occupational test. This child was segregated in an autism support class to start off. He often skips classes; volunteering to set up assembly, doing light and sound, going to TAFE automotive lessons, enjoying woodwork, doing group projects in the library. His citizenship is terrific. The Principal says he helps keep the school of 1600 running. I think having challenges as a family has taught him about what matters.

The occupational testers acknowledged that he wants to go straight into the workforce as a train timetabler or busdriver. However the same testers suggested that his Plan B should be something like aeronautical engineering. And both the Automotive Instructor at TAFE and the Modern History teacher have BEGGED for him to stay on for the HSC although he has chosen advanced maths, physics, chemistry, engineering.

I couldn’t be happier.

The struggle to cross from support classes to the mainstream has paid off. The special diet, the therapies, TLC and fuss have paid for themselves if he becomes a useful taxpayer.

Hanson is missing the point of the NDIS and much else. She misses empathy.  She misses the value of us all rising on the same tide of opportunity.

We grow as a group.

Imagine if Hanson had enjoyed access to expert teachers interested in her intellectual and emotional development.