A Florida mother is furious with the lack of adequate resources available for her son with special needs.
Conner Phillips, a 10-year-old with severe autism and Down syndrome, returned home from school on Oct. 28 covered in welts, WFLA reports. The child had been bitten by ants 45 times, leaving painful red marks all over his body.
“I’m very frustrated," Chandra Stewart, Conner's mother, told WFLA. "That’s my baby. I mean, he’ll always be my baby."
Stewart said she informed the Hillsborough County school system about her child's condition. Conner, though functioning at the level of a toddler, was placed in a fifth-grade class at Knights Elementary.
“My son can’t even speak," Stewart said. "He can’t even talk, and these kids are doing geography. I’m angry. I’m so angry. I’m angry that they let Conner down. He doesn’t belong at the school."
Stewart does not believe the school can adequately care for her son.
“I said, 'I’m trusting you because you said you’ve got this,'” Stewart said. "But, they obviously didn’t have it."
WFLA spoke with Hillsborough County Schools to help arrange a meeting with Conner's family. The school district said a paraprofessional was with the child that day, and he was treated for the insect bites immediately.
This type of misplacement is not uncommon, as parents of special needs children often have to fight in order to get appropriate resources for their kids. Special education is often neglected in public schools, so these children and their families often endure underfunded departments and poorly prepared staff. In a special-needs forum on MentalHelp.net, user Cathy mentioned that her son was included in regular classes by "sitting in the back, coloring."