MY friend has a 7-year-old granddaughter who is scared to go to school because there is a much larger male student in her classroom who has been diagnosed with severe autism. He continually disrupts the class and has displayed threatening behaviour to his classmates. This young boy needs specialist teachers who are trained to understand him. Instead, the public school system has been starved of funds and children like this young boy are being put into classrooms where the teachers are not trained to cope.
This young boy is not a 'bad child' because of his behaviour. He has been put into a place that he can't understand or connect with. I'm sure he's just as frightened about going to school every day. Autistic children are not dumb, they just have brains that are wired differently.
It is a well-recognised fact that many of the greatest minds in history displayed characteristics on the autism spectrum.
What is needed is government funding so that no child is locked away in a store room or tied to a chair for hours but given a specialist educational environment that understands and gives them the chance to reach their full potential.
Ann Ellis, Merewether
Despair and suspicion
IN a recent visit to Melbourne, I spotted a sign on the “Bombardier” passenger trains proudly boasting “Australian made”.
Our NSW government chose to have its passenger fleet built overseas, further decimating our local manufacturing industry. It’s excuse – economic rationality and saving taxpayer dollars. But when it comes to Newcastle’s $650 million-plus, 2.7km light rail fiasco, economic rationality missed the bus. The government’s own financial watchdog Restart NSW aimed to promote regional development, refused to endorse our light rail project because of the negative benefit to cost ratio (Herald, 21/9 and 23/9).
Despite any supportive financial case, the Transport Minister boasted the government was taking a “punt” on the benefits of the project and disingenuously asserted the trams were somehow responsible for the broader kick-start in commercial constructions. This despairing inconsistent application of financial safeguards and lack of transparency that disproportionately favours those at our city’s top table with hungry eyes for the virgin rail corridor, leaves me deeply suspicious of compliance with obligatory probity, integrity and due diligence requirements for all NSW and local government governance and decision-making processes.
Tony Brown, Newcastle
Frequency is key
FOR over a decade, I have promoted the idea of small buses/people movers, running no more than five minutes apart in rush hour, and every 10-15 minutes during less busy times. I am so pleased to see Graeme Tychsen make a similar suggestion (Short Takes, 11/10). Having lived in Sydney, it occurred to me that if you knew the bus would be along within the suggested timeframe, I am sure more people would travel on them.
Mind you, they have not seen fit to reduce the size of buses and make more frequent trips. The most prominent reason for truncating the Newcastle train line was lack of patronage. Be assured the same can be said for the monster buses that are presently running from the East End to Hamilton.
It makes a joke of any commitment to lowering harmful emissions; along with the danger they pose for those brave enough to straddle a pushbike. Come on council think outside the square, and make a decision that could be so far ahead of present trends you might win a Nobel Prize.
Pat Garnet, Newcastle East
Where is safety
A LETTER received from an asylum seeker, Ali, on Manus, about the Lucky Country.
These days I am so anxious and depressed
I feel like I'm crazy
You are lucky
You are lucky that you are Australian
You are lucky that you are free to go anywhere you want
You are lucky that you have family
Look me; I have no one here, no family
I can't go anywhere freely
(Not outside of Australia)
Sometimes I feel I don’t belong in this world
The last time I saw my family was nine years ago
I didn't see my mum before she died last year
I miss my mum
I can't see my dad
I can't see my brother
My dad is alone
My brother is alone
I am alone here
No one is with me
Aren't we human too?
Don't we have feelings just like you?
You all should think about how hard it is to live without family
It's hard to live
But we were not safe there in our homelands
So we came here for safety
And where is that safety?
Niko Leka, Mayfield
Think of our troops
THIS being National Mental Health week, one thing that Malcolm Turnbull could do to make a difference is give to the returned soldiers that have come home only to then commit suicide as a result of the PTSD. They have been inflicted with from the horror of what they had to do and witness; give them the respect they and their families deserve as being a victim of these ill-conceived unwinnable wars. These souls number six times the amount killed in battle, and are never mentioned when politicians talk of the sacrifice our soldiers make, and in my view they deserve to be honoured and remembered, not only for their sacrifice but also out of respect for their families and children that are left behind, just the same as if they were to have died on the battle field.
Allan Earl, Thornton
THANK you Sharon Claydon (Letters, 12/10) for telling it how it is with the installation of NBN. Since the changeover last year, I have had two separate full weeks without landline and computer services and several full days recently without the internet – possibly overloading, as used to be the case in the olden days of telephone lines. Requests for crediting my bills for lack of service have been denied. I sympathise with all those about to change over to the new system – be prepared to tear out a lot of hair.