• Understanding Autism from the Inside

    “Academics came easily to me. The rest of life—not so much.”
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Is recess a priviledge or a right?

Do our children have a right to the free time, socialization, and physical activity in school that recess affords, or is this time reserved as a privilege?

It would seem to me that during the time where this country’s children suffers from childhood obesity and diabetes that physical activity would be a priority–apparently in some schools, it is not.

Recess provides much needed rest periods and unstructured socialization opportunities during the rigid school day. I do not believe this time should be a privilege. In fact, children should participate in recess activities at all costs. Beyond socialization, and physical activity, research has shown that children learn better, and have higher test scores when regularly participating in recess.

Let’s say for arguments sake that I am completely wrong and recess should be reserved as a privilege. How then should this privilege be earned, or more importantly what kinds of behaviors should exclude a child, make him lose their recess privileges?

I can likely agree that misbehavior and disruptive behavior may be a valid reason for taking a child’s recess away. But what about forgetting a homework assignment, not getting a parent’s signature on a homework assignment, doing the homework but doing it incorrectly? How about doing your homework but losing recess because your parent forgot to sign one of the many sheets in your folder that needed signing? What about falling a math test? Not showing your math work? Forgetting your book home?

None of these things are behavior issue worthy of disciplinary measures. My son had lost recess privileges for all of the reasons listed here this year, and now is reporting feeling too sick to go to school tomorrow, something he had NEVER done!

These infractions are all a result of executive functioning issues with which he struggles, and the reason the district psychologists are evaluating him to determine what services be can receive and hammer out an IEP. HIS TEACHERS KNOW THIS!

I’m being frustrated and we will be making my complaints known at my meeting at the school district on Wednesday. This is ridiculous already.

Autism and special needs aside, his forgetful it’s not intentional, but laziness as one of his teachers have suggested. I’m furious, at the very least it could be childhood forgetfulness, or immaturity, but certainly is not willful disobedience, and therefore, should not be punished.


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Jeannie Davide-Rivera

Jeannie is an award-winning author, the Answers.com Autism Category Expert, contributes to Autism Parenting Magazine, and the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. She lives in New York with her husband and four sons, on the autism spectrum.