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NJ Special Needs Parents Face Unique Challenges [AUDIO]

How do you know your child will be safe at school from emotional abuse, especially when the child has special needs?  Cherry Hill father Stuart Chaifetz’s hidden recording of a teacher’s verbal attack of his ten year-old autistic son has raised concern for parents of special needs kids across the country.

Special Needs Children
Flickr User Honza Soukup

“I was absolutely appalled when I heard the tape” said Julie Rikon at the Association for Special Children and Families in North Jersey.

Rikon has a 28 year-old autistic son and says its a challenge for parents making decisions about school every day.

“When they can’t verbally tell you what’s going on, its very worrisome. You have to get yourself involved as a parent, especially if you have a special needs child.”

She said whether its a public or private school in New Jersey, parents need to ask a lot of questions.

“Is there a behavior specialist on staff, how will your child be disciplined, what kind of language do they use when they talk to your child – is it positive or negative…these are the questions we need to be addressing to teachers today.”

New Jersey is unique in that the state has the highest rate of autism in the country.

“We see a lot more children coming into the school district with autism and with special needs, so teachers need to be a light more mindful of this, more sensitive in the classroom” said Rikon.

She said Chaiftez YouTube video and recording shows that more monitoring and oversight is needed in special education classes.

“That’s not to say that we can’t explore the option of cameras one day…but I think there needs to be more accountability for teachers of children with special needs and disabilities, especially ones whom are non-verbal.”

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