Autism is heating up in Australia, and not because the country is transitioning to its summer period. A 17-year-old student is suing the Education Department for discrimination because he claims his teacher refused to re-word math questions on tests.
The student, Lewis Walton, said his math scores dropped because test questions were open-ended that related to real-life situations. He said he struggled with those questions and became so anxious that he was almost admitted to a hospital. The school did not comment in the story, but meeting minutes reported that the tests in question did not present any language difficulties.
While the story is another example of “he said/she said,” where the story is comprised of mostly claims, there are a few twists. Autistic people are not known for lying as most have difficulty comprehending complexities with language, including exaggerations and “white lies.” To have an autistic person take sarcasm or exaggeration literally is not a surprise, finding comfort with logically-based communication (for those who can communicate orally). However, the reporter did not present any proof beyond Walton’s testimony in the story, so the extent of the alleged discrimination is truly unknown.
So what makes this story intriguing compared to my last post? This was a story in Australia covered by an Australian news outlet. While access to international journalism is well-known for news junkies and web surfers, a close study can make an effective comparison to domestic coverage. The school lawsuit story provides an example that adaptation for autistic people can be problematic anywhere in the world, despite the majority of stories coming from the United States and United Kingdom. While not frequent, Australia contributes to the autism news front, and I’m sure further examination would quickly reveal autism issues in countries where English is not the primary language.
While parents will often question their own abilities when they discover autism in the family, this story may help them understand that the condition is global. Closer examinations of autism’s international saturation may highlight tips, parallels, strategies, questions and topics that may not be discussed within the states. Autism’s biggest controversy, the suggestion that vaccines caused the condition, started in the United Kingdom.