Autism parent Arnold Vetstein describes his efforts to find the right kind of school for his autistic son, Richard, in the 1960s in an article in today’s DailyNewsTribune.com (MA): School marks 40 years of helping autistic children.
When Arnold Vetstein tried to get his autistic son, Richard, into the Newton Public School system in the 1960s, he said he was told there was no place for him and that the price of educating him would have been prohibitive.
At that time there was no law requiring school districts to provide education to all students.
Once Vetstein would find a preschool willing to take on his son, he would count the days.
“We awaited that terrible telephone call that we needed to find a new place,” said Vetstein, now a Boston resident. “No one had training on how to handle autistic children so they would get frustrated. It wasn’t a disease or illness people were interested in. We decided we should open our own school.”
The League School opened its doors in 1966; Arnold and Leona Vetstein took out personal loans to help pay for teachers’ salaries. Richard Vetstein is now 48 years old and was the oldest alumnus at the League School’s first homecoming last fall. His father will soon turn 80.
Forty years later, the search and the struggle for the best schools and education for autistic children continues.
And while it may not feel that way, our efforts must be a bit easier, thanks to the hard work of parents like the Vetsteins.