Inexperienced teachers, parents assume shy children are autistic


Le Trong Hieu in Go Vap district in HCM City said he received a call one day in the 2014-2015 academic year from his son’s teacher who asked him to come to the school. HIs son Le Trong Nhan at the time was a ninth grader at PTH Secondary School.

The teacher told the father that his son insisted that he not attend physical fitness lessons. During the lessons, Nhan did not do the exercises as requested by the teacher, but instead stood under a tree.

The teacher also said Nhan only had a few friends and did not want to communicate with friends.

The father was told that if he wanted his son to ‘pass’ the physical fitness subject, he should bring Nhan to hospital to have medical examination.
eachers and parents now tend to think their children are autistic just after seeing some of their ‘odd’ behavior. 

If doctors concluded that Nhan is autistic, or ‘CWD’ (child with disabilities), he would not have to take the subject.

However, the doctor who examined Nhan said the boy was just ‘shy’ and ‘reticent’, not autistic. His parents, teachers and friends need to respect his feelings and befriend him.

Hieu said he felt sad about the teacher’s advice and thought that his son was autistic. “My child is just shy. He is very good at all subjects, especially natural sciences,” he said.

The father said it took him a lot of time to persuade the son to go to hospital for health examinations, because the boy had tried to prove he was a ‘normal person’.

Nhan now is a 10th grader. He is brought to school in the morning by his father and returns home on bus at noon. He can help his parents do housework, but he remains uncommunicative.

Tham, his mother, said Huy is timid and likes standing behind the mother’s back. He can sit for hours watching wheels rotating. The boy is good at studies, but he does not have friends and he does not like participating in the class’s group activities.

Tham then tried to treat the boy with kindness and consideration, satisfying all of his requirements. As a result, Huy became very demanding. If his requirements could not be satisfied, he would harm himself.

Tham decided that her son suffered from autism and brought him to hospital.

A heathcare officer of a primary school in district 3 said teachers and parents now tend to think their children are autistic just after seeing some of their ‘odd’ behavior. It is as if autism is the ‘century’s disease’.

“It is a blunder to treat incommunicative and shy children as if they are autistic,” she said.