Autonomy assistance and communication and accreditation services

“The modality that is extended in terms of autonomy and communication assistants – writes Paola Di Michele – is that of accreditation, with risks in the first place from the pedagogical point of view, that is, to make these figures are different personalities, differentiated and separated from the rest of the team with which he works and collaborates every day at school with students with disabilities “.

An assistant of autonomy and communication in working with a child with a disability

Following a disappointing union hearing on Bill 2887 (Amendments to Act February 5, 1992, n. 104, and the legislative decree of April 13, 2017, n. 66, relating to the introduction of the professional profile of the assistant for autonomy and communication in the functions of school staff.), which proposes the nationalization of specialized assistance services for autonomy and communicationit is painful to note that the ubiquitous modality is that ofaccreditation.
I leave the definition of “accreditation” to the jurists and specialists of the administration. I will simply say here that accreditation is equivalent, de factothe services offered by private companies in the health and social care sector to the public in all aspects and in same contractual, security and training conditions as in public structures (and already in this way not too many comments would be needed).

At this point I ask myself a few questions.
Law 328/00, still a “dead letter” regarding individual projects, speaks of social and health services such as the Day Rehabilitation and / or Socialization Centers. And therefore the right to education of students with disabilities are within the services mentioned above or are not, rather, a constitutionally guaranteed right related to public school? Is the principle of subsidiarity really applicable to the autonomy and communication assistance service? Or what’s left?
Law 328/00, moreover, makes no mention of the figures dealing with school inclusion by the territorial bodies, but unfortunately does not even exclude them, so that in this vacatio legis becoming “nobody’s land”, it was possible that even the Municipalities of Rome, which employs more than 3,000 operators, switched to the school integration services accreditation system. All this despite the three-day-three strike of the operators, passed in silence by any media, despite the empty promises of the City of Rome to talk to the exasperated workers.

An example of a municipality that already uses this system (but there are more and more throughout the national territory) is that of Varese, where the operator is chosen by the family who gives him a monthly voucher, such as the one used for temporary agricultural workers. For those who, like me, thought that the system of bidding at the maximum discount was the worst possible for these workers, here you have that accreditation represents, in the opinion of the writer, the lowest point ever reached.
I think it’s like that first of all from a point of view pedagogical. In fact, we can talk non-stop about educational alliance and reciprocity, about empowering different skills and points of view, but if we introduce the dangerous principle of choice within the public school (in the case of Rome of the body, this is the Cooperative, but in fact, choosing the operators, now that there will be no impediments), we introduce, in fact, of the principles: who are the attendees different, different and separate staff for the rest of the team with whom he works and collaborates every day at school, treated, paid and selected differently; that, in addition, the acting fantasies of control can be extended without restrictions, because the selection criteria are completely subjective and based on the desperate need of parents to control what happens to their children in school, thus burdened with an additional and frankly excessive burden.

A colleague told me, years ago, about working with a troubled teenager who made an incongruous request to his operator (to go home tutoring), so that, with a negative refusal, a real war broke out with his parents (of whom the operator was completely unaware, as the school forbade any direct contact), which led to the removal of the operator himself. And I could explain dozens of similar cases.
Because, simply, every operator is an education professional who has a pedagogical vision that does not always necessarily coincide with the “requests” of parents. What they have to match and match, in the whole relational ecosystem of inclusion, are the goals. And the only goal is and remains there student protection and favor paths of growth and self-determination. But everyone, in the “ecology of inclusion,” paraphrasing Andrea Canevaro, has it right to the place that belongs to him, no more and no less. That is, everyone should be free to act in science and consciousness based on their role and abilities, in total interdependence, not subordination.

As expected, on the other hand, the publication of the Unique Register of Accredited Cooperatives caused a real organizational earthquake. Just to give a few examples:
° Cooperatives reappeared out of nowhere, it is not even known if they have staff or coordinators or the required financial skills (however, without knowing if they will be chosen, they may not even have enough staff).
° Cooperatives that it should have all the required requirements, such as the ability to do training and supervision (in the 2019 White Paper, colleagues who claimed to have done training were less than a third, as well as those who claimed to do supervision), which is it is not known who and how to check.
° Colleagues who have discovered that their Cooperative is not accredited to the school where they work, and that they do not know what will happen to them, to which Cooperative they will have to “migrate” and whether the social safeguard clause will actually apply.
° Colleagues who will be in cooperatives from which they had been fired years before for reasons of incompatibility or worse and which will be forced to return.
° Colleagues that, out of play, they will have to “announce” their Cooperatives so that their parents can choose it, since, obviously, the parents have no idea who they are dealing with.
° Schools trying to get families to “choose well,” perhaps trying to keep “the good operators” and give them away. defective.

Personally, I have always established relationships with the parents of my students with frankness and honesty. I have often specified that my pedagogical vision and methods are aimed at “becoming superfluous”; o work autonomy as an intermediary so that my help would become superfluous as soon as possible. “Do it yourself,” as Maria Montessori used to say.
The professionalism of an assistant plays a big role in the ability to contain anxiety about falls and mistakes and in the idea that inclusion is such that, entering a class, it is not possible to establish “who is who” and “who do what “. Obviously, this view may not be in line with the “requests” of some parents or those who are still convinced that it is right for the assistant to remain an ad personam operator. Because the educational alliance is built day by dayat the base of necessarily equal and reciprocal relationships.

Of all this history, however, what makes me most bitter is the total distrust, the bad idea that control is the basis and guarantee of quality, the idea that the public school, sick of so many ills, has to measure as in a phrenology treatise to assess its quality.
And finally, I note with sadness how the situation of the auxiliaries of autonomy and communication travels to the abyss of total privatization and isolation of the schoolwhich is and remains the workplace of the 70,000 autonomy and communication assistants. While I count by the dozens, by the hundreds, comrades fleeing in exasperation. With the risk that, in fact, in September the accreditation will be just an empty box.

Clinical psychologist, trainer, teacher, former specialist assistant.

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