Parents of autistic students, completely helpless since they were deprived of school, demanded that special education be considered as an essential service during the indefinite general strike.
“Because he is at home, he is in a hurry. He cried, he made holes in the walls. He’s really not doing well,” said Geneviève Comeau, about her son Sunny.
At age 15 and living with severe autism spectrum disorder (ASD), Sunny couldn’t understand why she couldn’t go to her special school in Montreal.
It is closed for an indefinite period due to the indefinite general strike of the Autonomous Education Federation (FAE), which does not spare special establishments.
“When there’s a strike in the health sector, the emergency room is open, critical care is open. Our kids are like going to the emergency room when they go to school,” said Bianca Nugent, interim president of the Coalition. of Parents of Children with Special Needs.
“We can mandate that special education teachers and all support staff be considered essential services,” he suggested.
Catherine Cardinal, who lives in Les Coteaux, in Montérégie, is worried about the effects of the strike on her 9-year-old son Jordan, who is deaf and lives with moderate ASD. He also attended a special school in Montreal.
“Since the start of the strike, he has experienced complete anxiety. He is hidden in his room with his tablet. If we miss three or four weeks, it is an organization, which will bring him back to that routine.
Catherine Cardinal and her son Jordan PHOTO PROVIDED BY CATHERINE CARDINAL
For her part, Geneviève Comeau says that she lacks solutions to spend the days with her son.
“When I go to the Biodôme, my son touches everything. He’s bigger than me, so I can’t carry him anywhere without help.”
At the Quebec Intellectual Disability Society, the general director, Amélie Duranleau, fears that these students will suffer “greater learning loss” than others.
mME Cardinal asked to be heard by unions and government; he called for the establishment of an exception for young people with special needs.
“We won’t last until the holidays,” he believed.
The Autonomous Education Federation (FAE) did not respond to our request for an interview.
A glimmer of hope for parents, however, appeared Thursday, when the president of the FAE, Mélanie Hubert, indicated to TVA Nouvelles that the recent progress in the negotiations could lead to the suspension of the indefinite general strike.
Frédéric Brun, representing the Common Front, confirmed that it is very difficult for a union to exempt these clients from a strike.
“The line is hard to define: these students have greater needs compared to others.”
For its part, the office of the Minister of Education Bernard Drainville indicated “that it is up to the Administrative Labor Tribunal to look into the question of essential services”.