The story of Akian Chaifetz, is a heartbreaking one that sees people in power, abusing it.
The quiet 10-year-old, who his dad Stuart described as a ” sweet and gentle child”, suddenly found himself in trouble at school…. or did he?
Akian’s dad suspected something was “horrifyingly wrong” at school when his autistic son began acting violently had the boy wear a digital recorder and discovered teachers verbally abusing him.
“The thing that said to me that something horrifyingly wrong was going on was that he was hitting the teacher and the aide. I have never seen him hit anyone. He’s just not a violent kid,” Chaifetz told ABCNews.com.
Akian spent six months working with behaviorists and other specialists who were trying to find the problem. Finally, Akian was put in a controlled scenario that pushed him to his limits and, still, he did not lash out violently.
“I realized that there was something terrible going on in that classroom and I needed to know what it was,” Chaifetz said.
Chaifetz put a digital recorder in Akian’s pocket on a February school day. Akian is in a self-contained autism class with five other students and the device recorded six-and-a-half hours of audio.
When Akian came home from school and Chaifetz listened to the audio, he was shocked by what he heard. “When I listened to what they had done to him, I just shattered inside,” Chaifetz said.
Chaifetz heard the teacher and aide calling Akian names, making fun of him, yelling at him and having inappropriate conversations in front of the children.
“The culture was so dysfunctional that an adult felt she could make fun of a child with a disability and nothing would happen to her,” Chaifetz said. “If it wasn’t captured on the audio, she probably would still be making fun of my son. That’s a bully.”
Akian, according to Chaifetz, has a tendency to speak softly to himself. When he was doing so in class, a teacher or aide can be heard saying angrily, “Who are you talking to? Nobody. Knock it off.” Akian is also told several times to shut his mouth.
After being scolded several times, Akian begins to cry and the administrator said, “Go ahead and scream because guess what? You’re going to get nothing until your mouth is shut.”
At another point, the teacher or aide calls Akian a “bastard” when he will not stop crying.
Chaifetz took the audio to school officials and one of the aides was fired and another teacher — who is tenured — was moved to a different school, an arrangement he’s admittedly uncomfortable with.
“I don’t want her teaching anyone ever again,” he said. “She lost her privilege to do that.
“You don’t hurt my son and get away with it, but that’s what they were doing,” he said. “They told me, ‘It’s a personnel matter and we can’t talk about it.’ Well, you can’t talk about it, but I can. I’m not going to keep this a secret.”
Chaifetz has since taken to social networking forums on Facebook and Youtube to publicize the incident and “reclaim [his] son’s dignity.”