Friday, May 22, 2009

GA: Bernie Marcus Speaks Out on Autism and Autism Case

See Related:Ferrari family's attorney seeks sit-down meeting with Atlanta Public Schools -- CLICK HERE to read the memo.
Judge John Gatto's ruling in Stefan's case
GA: Mother Records Autistic Child's Alleged Abuse

NOTE: While we don't always agree with Autism Speaks, we fully agree with Mr. Marcus's remarks regarding abusive treatment of children with autism....

As interest in the Stefan Ferrari case gains national attention with website commentaries and hundreds of emails, one of the country's leading benefactors of bringing awareness and care to children with autism--Bernie Marcus is speaking out.

Mr. Marcus is the Founder of the Marcus Institute and Autism Center and the Co-Founder of Autism Speaks.

His Center has already treated more than 30,000 children with autism---one of the first of those was Stefan Ferrari.

His outrage about what happened to Stefan was intense.

"One out of 96 boys is autistic and when it hits the family it's a catastrophe," Mr. Marcus said.

For the family of Stefan Ferrari, 11, there was hope.

He was one of the first youngsters enrolled in the Early Intervention Program at the Marcus Autistic Center.

His mother Carolyn also became a member of the Center's Board.

"Here you have a kid that was not really easy to deal with. We brought him along so that at least he could go to public schools. To have this insensitivity in the school in dealing with this kid--it just rips your heart out. I mean the parents are going through so much as it is, on a constant basis. It's 24 hours a day--every single day and it's nonstop. On top of that to have this type of thing happen--it just points out we are not dealing with it. Schools are not dealing well with it. The government is not dealing well with it, and it's getting bigger and bigger every day," Mr. Marcus added.

For Bernie Marcus, dedicated to sensitive and patient care for children with autism--the case of Stefan Ferrari was a shocker.

"It's a horror. It's a horror. It's terrible. This kid can't fight back. This kid can't do anything. He can't tell his parents. He doesn't have the ability to share what happened at school and its infuriates me," Mr. Marcus said.

For Bernie Marcus, the emotions are strong.

"That school needs a lot of training. I think the fact that people said we are investigating--we never saw the tape, never heard the tape--it's the old Jackie Mason thing--I didn't hear it, I didn't see it--that's nonsense," Mr. Marcus added.

He continued:

"They should have paid attention to it. They should have listened to it. They should have taken action, but no action was taken until the spotlight really got big. Bless his mother----I know the mother-she, like all parents of autistic children, is determined. They are fighters. They are fighting all their lives. They don't know anything other than knowing how to fight had she fought. This was a battle that she won and she won it for all these autistic kids that are in the public schools."

But Bernie Marcus, always an optimist, sees a plus side.

He is offering training from the Marcus Institute and the Marcus Autism Center to the Atlanta Public Schools.

"An incident like this could have a good part--every bad thing sometimes has a good thing. I think it now is time to point out to Beverly Hall, who is the Superintendent of Schools, that she has a problem in her schools. That maybe there has to be more training in this. We would be happy to share with them. We would love to share with the school systems how to diagnose; how to deal with these kids; and how to best train them and change their attitudes," Mr. Marcus said.

He is confident that what happened to Stefan will hasten teacher awareness.

"An incident like this puts the spotlight on them and I think what is going to happen is that more people are going to be aware of it. More people will become sensitive to it and there will be teachers who will say--wait a minute--I better pay attention to this. I don't want this to happen to me," he added.

It's an incident that has put the spotlight front and center where Bernie Marcus wants it---on autism---too often ignored, too often treated with contempt.

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