Judge Alison Rowley, who sits in the upper tribunal, a higher level court in the UK, said, in a statement released with a ruling, that “aggressive behaviour is not a choice for children with autism” and “In that context, to my mind it is repugnant to define as ‘criminal or anti-social’ the effect of the behaviour of children whose condition (through no fault of their own) manifests itself in particular ways so as to justify treating them differently from children whose condition has other manifestations.”
The Tribunal in London upheld an appeal that involved a 13-year old boy who was excluded from his school because aggressive behavior that was linked to his autism.
According to The Guardian, statistics show that, in England, children with special needs are at a much higher risk than other children of being excluded from mainstream schools. This statistic is unsurprising to many who have dealt with the school system, but this recent ruling provides a new hope for the thousands of individuals excluded from schools because of Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Jane Harris, of the National Autistic Society, said the verdict could transform the educational prospects of children on the spectrum. However, while many experts, parents, and children alike are thrilled with the ruling, some are worried about how this will affect other kids at the schools, including those on the spectrum, who are a victim of aggressive behavior. Polly Sweeney, a partner at Irwin Mitchell, which was the group of lawyers who represented the family in the case, assured that “This decision does not mean that schools are prevented from excluding children where it is necessary and proportionate to do so. However, it will ensure all disabled children are afforded the same safeguards, protections and rights under the law regardless of whether their disability gives rise to challenging behaviour.”
A spokesman of the Department of Education said the government is “fully committed to protecting the rights of children with disabilities” and this ruling will hopefully prove that this is true.