Waleed Aly spoke to the Hit Network‘s Carrie & Tommy this afternoon about something he rarely discusses: his family.
In response to Pauline Hanson‘s wild nonsense regarding autistic children, Aly opened up about the reality of raising a child with autism. His nine-year-old son Zayd was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum in 2011.
“For us it showed up in his unbelievable obsession with trains. It showed up in early years when we would tell him off and he would look at us blankly like, ‘Why are you making these noises?’ He wouldn’t pick up the social cues.“[After hearing the diagnosis] I actually thought, ‘Oh great, the world makes sense now’. And now we know exactly what to do, we can handle this. And he’s thriving, he’s coping really well. But I can imagine for other parents it wouldn’t be like that at all. Because when you have a diagnosis, what that triggers in a lot of people’s minds is this is lifelong and I suppose it kind of is.”
He also told the radio hosts that the main problem with Hanson’s idea to just take autistic kids out of mainstream schools is that every child with autism is different, and has a different learning style and experience.
“One of the problems with autism – and one of the problems with what Pauline Hanson said about it yesterday – it’s not that it’s never true that it can be really difficult for teachers. But it’s that the experience of autism is so diverse that you can’t possibly categorise it in this way.”
Responding to Hanson’s point that teachers were disproportionately devoting their teaching time to disabled kids, Aly said:
“There are very easy fixes for a lot of these sorts of things. It’s when you lump everyone together and try to turn everything into a problem that is to be solved somehow or quarantined from things that are not a problem, that’s when I think life starts to get difficult for people.“There’s this saying that goes around among people who either have children with autism or are experts in the area and they say: ‘If you know one person with autism, then you know one person with autism’. It’s incredibly diverse.”
On that point, he mentioned that kids with autism learn in “a million different ways“, meaning that just taking them out of regular class wouldn’t fix anything.
“For some, it can be actually quite difficult then to be in a classroom environment, and they might need special schooling. But for others, if they’ve got an aid, or even if they’ve just got a teacher who’s just a bit switched on and attentive to it, they’re fine and they thrive.”
There you go, Pauline. Autistic kids: they’re not all the same. Who’da thunk it.
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