LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A local mom is speaking out after a confrontation between school staff and her 13-year-old son with autism, over him not wearing a mask.
Shantal Myers is hoping to raise awareness about how to engage with students with special needs and how to prevent a situation like this from happening to other families.
“He’s a typical teenage boy, loves baseball, bacon, cars, water, swimming,” Myers said. “And he has autism.”
Myers is the mother to 13-year-old Christian, who has autism.
Myers says the past year of distance learning has been tough.
“He hasn’t had any social interaction, hasn’t been around a lot of typical peers,” Myers said. “Obviously he’s regressed in the last year, substantially.”
This week, all grades were able to return to school on a hybrid model.
Myers took these photos of christian as he entered the school for the first time in over a year.
“All of a sudden I hear somebody yelling from around the corner ‘mask, mask, mask. Where is his mask? He needs a mask,’” Myers said. “I looked at Christian, because I was like ‘whoa what’s going on here?’ He wasn’t wearing a mask.”
Christian won’t wear a mask because of sensory issues.
The “Organization for Autism Research” says mask-wearing has been a challenge for people with autism throughout the pandemic and has led to other confrontations.
Initially, Myers was told by the school she needed a doctor’s note in order for Christian to be in class without a mask. Later, they clarified she would need to modify his individualized education program.
“I’m surprised he handled it as well as he did, because not being in the building after a year and being hit with that aggressive attitude, it was just uncalled for and unprofessional I think,”” Myers said.
In response, CCSD referred 8 News Now to the hybrid model guide, which says, in part, that a student with a disability that prevents them from wearing a mask may qualify for accommodations, but it must be documented in the student’s IEP.
“If anybody is at home because their kiddo has to wear a mask to school, there’s options,” Myers said. “I just would hate for somebody to experience what we did yesterday. It could have been handled completely different.”
Myers has scheduled an IEP revision with the school next week to allow Christian to not wear a mask.
In the meantime, he will head back to class on Monday with his cohort.