The mother of Diego, a Maltese boy living with autism, has taken to social media to open about the way she and her son were treated during a free morning service for students over the last few days.
“Good morning to everyone, today we’re starting on a bit of a worse note than usual,” said Sefora Tabone, Diego’s mother, at the beginning of the video
Explaining how her son is enrolled in the Breakfast Club – a government-run morning programme that allows parents to drop off their children prior to work – she recounted what happened after she took Diego last Friday morning.
“On Friday when I dropped Diego off he started crying, and I left him with the LSE that usually takes care of him in the morning, ” she explained.
After dropping him off, she moved to leave, but bumped into the day LSE that takes care of Diego in the afternoon. As they were speaking about some issues related to Diego, Sefora said she began to hear screams and shouts.
“I turned to see if it was because of my son, and I saw him sitting on a chair, sitting in the corner because of a time-out – which is fine – and my son was just crying and gasping for breathe, and the morning LSE who was taking care of him was bellowing at him with her fingers in his face, and, instead of calming him, was causing him to throw things on the floor: instead of calming him, she was shouting even more, so he began shouting even more,” she says.
“So I entered the room, told Diego to pick everything up, and at the time I didn’t tell her anything, and I took him out and calmed him down. She then came out after me and I told her: ‘that wasn’t the way to address my son’s issues,'” she said.
However, she said the LSE replied that she was the one with more experience
“I told her: ‘surely experience doesn’t teach you to shout like that at kids with autism’,” she replied. “You take them out or go for a walk with them to calm them down or give them some form of re-enforcement or a reward for picking their things up from the floor… that’s how you address autism,” she said.
Following the incident, she spoke to the headmistress to try and point out what she saw as a lack of training and understanding – however, this morning, the situation was made worse
“Today I went to take my child to the Breakfast Club – only to find a chair in the middle of the corridor saying ‘no parents beyond this point.'” she says.
“Mela sewwa – because I saw something that I didn’t like and I reported it, we close the access to parents so no one can ever see or hear what is going on. When I spoke out and said that I was still going to take my own child to class, which I did, they told they had been sent an email telling them that parents should be stopped in the corridor,” she says.
She questioned the appearance of the banning of parents from the hallway, as well as the timing of it
“I hope this messages arrives at who it needs to, and it is taken into consideration. Firstly, I’ve been walking my son into class for a year, if I try to change his routine in the last month he won’t take it well, and secondly, it’s not the reason why they did it: it’s so no parent can see what is happening,” she said.
Sefora wanted to draw attention to the way she and her son were treated in the Breakfast Club, calling on authorities to address the situation parents of children with autism were facing.
“I hope this message arrives at who it needs to, because we’ve now truly arrived at a disgusting situation: because a parent complains, we close their access to class. We should be ashamed of ourselves,” she said.