Integration of children with autism, hearing and visual impairments remains difficult, ombudswoman

The social integration and integration into the education system of children with special educational needs take place. But there are reservations as to the integration of children with autism spectrum disorders and children with hearing and visual impairments. Many of the children with health problems are institutionalized and there is no clear legal framework concerning their deinstitutionalization, ombudswoman for children’s rights Maia Bănărescu stated in an interview for IPN.

Maia Bănărescu said the autistic children and the children with hearing and visual impairments are not fully integrated into society and into the education system. This problem was discussed on the platform of the National Council for the Protection of Children’s Rights. The new child protection strategy that is to be worked out will center on the deinstitutionalization of these children and on their integration.

The ombudswoman noted that the quality of the process of teaching the discipline that refers to children’s rights leaves to be desired at this stage. It centers rather on theory and this is not always understood by children. The children heard about their rights, but do not realize them fully. When they are asked about the existence of a gym at the institution where they study, sports equipment or quality of teaching, the children express their dissatisfaction, but do not really understand that this is their right to education.

In discussions with the ombudswoman, the students often complain about the heavy workload. Maia Bănărescu said that the students of the first grades are no longer given homework, except for some projects, and this is an accomplishment. It is important that the children learn to speak about the problems they face. The training of children so that they become active citizens who know their rights starts from school. It is also important to realize that the children have rights and responsibilities, namely responsibilities, not obligations, like the adults.

As to the reopening of kindergartens, which is asked by many parents through online petitions, the ombudswoman said her opinion oscillates between ensuring the child’s right to education and the superior interest of the child related to health. The reopening of kindergartens should be considered carefully as enormous risks are involved. The situation is rather complex given the series of measures that should be respected. The situation is also difficult because it is hard to impose these norms on children. The children are more emotional. They don’t know to maintain social distancing and can infect from each other and then bring the virus home. The authorities should ponder over this and take a decision in the child’s superior interest.

The interview titled “June 1, International Children’s Day. Children have their rights” forms part of IPN’s project “Injustice Revealed through Multimedia”.

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