We were dismayed by the report on the relief teacher who took his frustrations out on a nine-year-old autistic pupil (Teacher jailed for abusing autistic pupil, 9; Oct 9). We also agree that more can be done to help persons with disabilities in the workplace (Do more to help those with disabilities in the workplace, by Dr Bayanagari Malavika; Oct 12).
People with disabilities of all ages, because of their perceived differences and limitations, face challenges in being accepted as part of the community.
Those with invisible disabilities have added challenges when people, unaware of their condition, do not understand their needs and fail to be accommodating.
To students, a teacher is a figure of authority and a role model.
The actions of the teacher in the report could have given the impression to the other students that it is acceptable to treat someone with special needs in that manner.
As more children are diagnosed with developmental needs each year, and with the extension of the Compulsory Education Act to include children with special needs next year, more students with differing needs may enter mainstream schools.
Educators and school administrators need to be aware of different learning behaviours and have the knowledge to handle students with different abilities.
SPD has been running workshops to help pre-school teachers identify children who may have learning or behavioural issues, and we have seen how these have empowered the participants as they go about their work in classrooms.