Letter: Thinks YDC could be used as alternative school

Published:

Since the Newtown, Conn.,

tragedy, I have not seen or heard the old Youth Development Center and Sandy Hook Elementary School mentioned in the same sentence. But instead of hitting the YDC with a wrecking ball, Hudson might consider how the YDC might be redirected to prevent similar incidents.

My sister Ellen is an attorney in Columbus who for many years practiced law by suing school districts who failed to provide a free and appropriate education to students with disabilities. She always won her cases, but the students always lost. The schools were more concerned with meeting the legal requirements than effectively helping students. Despite the law's best intentions, she observed that special education is not working for these students.

Ellen then started the Brookwood Community Learning Center to help quirky students with significant social problems. Such students might carry objects as security blankets. One girl carried a stuffed unicorn. Others might violate security requirements by clinging to backpacks. These strange behaviors invite teasing. Teachers react puzzled and demand students to "grow up." Student performance suffers, the pressure builds, and the student explodes resulting in an expulsion or suspension. Today 118 autistic students who have suffered in the public schools are now thriving in the Brookwood Community Learning Center. One will never know how many tragic events have been prevented.

Parents who are desperate to help their quirky kids escape from public schools need an effective alternative. The Center for Disease Control states that one in 88 children has autism spectrum disorder. At this rate 52 Hudson families might be seeking help. Creating an alternative school at YDC could be Hudson's most effective response to preventing another Newtown tragedy.

Cecil Wristen, Hudson

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