It's holiday pageant
time around the nation and, in Clarksburg, W. Va., a boy was
preparing for his big moment. Caleb, 6, was going to say his line, “Gobble, gobble!” in front of family
and friends. But that moment never happened. Why?
Caleb's dad shared a
video of the event on Facebook, explaining that his son has level one high-functioning autism.
The video clearly
shows a teacher snatching the mic away from the boy. Immediately,
he breaks into tears. It's gone viral with more than 30,000 comments
criticizing the teacher and school.
In a response,
Harrison County Superintendent Mark Manchin called the event “a
mistake,” which was done “without malice.” He added that he
would be speaking with the teacher and the principal, emphasizing
that teachers and administrators care about all students.
anyone who watches the video would see why it's hard to view the
teacher's actions as a mistake. Caleb is clearly seen waiting for his
turn, and the teacher hurriedly grabs the microphone. At no point is
the mic returned to him so that he can say his line—despite his
The fact that so
many have shared their outrage is a silver lining to a heartbreaking
event, which will hopefully serve as a cautionary tale for school
administrators everywhere about the importance of treating students
with autism equally.
Beyond having a
conversation with the teacher, as the superintendent stated he would
do, any parent in this situation would want an apology from the
teacher and administrators, and specific guidelines adopted to
ensure children with autism and learning disabilities are included,
accommodated and given an equal opportunity to thrive in their
What happened to Caleb also highlights the fact that sometimes, the biggest bully you face is a teacher.
This is not the
first time that the treatment of a child with autism has made it into
the news. Back in May, a mom posted
a video of her defending her autistic son's right to
partake in a graduation ceremony with his peers. That video also went
viral. Stories of parents struggling to get their kids' appropriate
accommodations or school services abound.
Events like these
demonstrate that parents of children with autism and learning
disabilities bear an unfair burden to fight for equal access to
their community and a quality education.
Parents of students
with autism and learning disabilities want actions, not words.
In an effort to be proactive, Caleb's dad was started the hashtags #teamCaleb and #makeitrightforCaleb.