Turkish parents boo children with autism to protest against inclusive classes

A group of Turkish parents in the central Anatolian province of Aksaray booed children with autism in protest after a primary school opened inclusive special education classes, Cumhuriyet newspaper reported on Thursday.

The parents do not want the children with autism to share the school with their own children. Groups in Turkey have been campaigning for years for inclusive education, but have faced stiff social resistance.

The families of the autistic children said the parents who had booed their children had also been supported by the school’s principal, Cumhuriyet added. 

The Turkish Ministry of Education has launched an investigation into the incident and the role of the principal. The ministry also banned schools from putting “classes for autistic students” signs on the doors of classrooms, Cumhuriyet said. 

The Aksaray Governor’s Office denied that the incident took place. 

“When the number of children with autism attending the school increases, rumours start that the other students will be transferred to other schools. Then the parents react saying there are no other schools to send their children to,” Neriman Gün, a member of the Autism Solidarity Association in Aksaray, told Independent Turkish. 

Meanwhile, an official from the ministry’s provincial organisation told Independent Turkish that while other schools also had children with autism, Mehmetçik primary school was the only one that offered special education classes.