When parents have a child with autism they face a difficult challenge of caring for a child who may be developmentally delayed and prone to a wide range of emotions. Parents must also shield their children from the cruelty of the world. Two parents in West Virginia were faced with this problem recently and it left their son heartbroken.
According to Kent Squires and Amanda Riddle, their 6-year-old autistic son Caleb was excited to appear in his school’s Thanksgiving play. Caleb was going to play a turkey in the play at Nutter Fort Primary School in Harrison County, West Virginia. His only lines were “gobble, gobble” to close out the end of the play. But cellphone footage captured by his father instead showed Caleb’s big night crushed by what some are calling a mean teacher. Students were approaching the microphone and saying their ending lines for the night, but when Caleb was ready to deliver his “gobble, gobble” the teacher inexplicably took the microphone away. Caleb cried “oh, no” and then broke down crying in front of the audience.
His father decided that others needed to be made aware of his son’s treatment and used social media to get his point across. He posted the video to Facebook with the following text: “This is my little boy in his Thanksgiving play he is the last kid and has level one high functioning autism he has the biggest heart and [is] always happy. Now watch it and see what a teacher of kids does to him. He came home from school and said he gets to say gobble, gobble cause he was playing the turkey. I am reaching out to see if something can be done.”
Soon, hundreds of people chimed in with supportive messages and calls for the teacher to be disciplined or even fired. Mark Manchin, the superintendent of Harrison County Schools, said the Board of Education was investigating the video. He told media that he believed it was a “mistake” with “no malice” intended. Manchin went on to say “This teacher, as all of our teachers, truly cares about these young boys and girls. The program was over, at least as I understand, and the teacher had taken the microphone.”