Russian special needs girl barred from dancing at kindergarten concert as ‘it’s for normal children'

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A girl with special needs hasn’t been allowed to take part in the performance in a Russian kindergarten by the facility manager, her mom says, alleging the manager qualified the concert as one “for normal children.” Authorities are looking into the incident.

The incident took place in the city of Naberezhnye Chelny, Tatarstan Republic in late October. Five-year-old Sonya Trunova wanted to dance in front of the audience of her friends and their parents at a local kindergarten. The girl, with Aicardi syndrome, had been rehearsing simple movements since September and was ready to show what she learned during these two months.

Children with such a disease suffer from seizures and almost entirely miss a key structure in the brain called the corpus callosum, the band of white matter connecting the two hemispheres in the brain.

However, Sonya wasn’t destined to show her talents during the children’s holiday, the girl’s mother, Natalia Trunova, told RT. Right before the performance was due to start, Natalia was called in by the kindergarten manager who told her the girl couldn’t go on stage and should only watch the performance as a spectator.

“But she has been preparing for the performance! She has been rehearsing it together with other children! And she succeeded!” Natalia recalls her spontaneous replies to the manager, “You don’t think she will be able to do it?”

But, according to Natalia, the manager was adamant: “No, the girl won’t be able to perform!”

“If there were a separate holiday for special needs kids, then it’s ok. But this is a holiday for normal children,” the manager reportedly went on, “There are a lot of parents and I can’t allow to disrupt the children’s party. Your daughter will distract everyone,” Natalia quoted the manager as saying.

Natalia was seemingly devastated by the incident as she said that this performance was a “small victory” for her girl with special needs. Sonya was able to walk alone only by the age of three and this was her first year in the kindergarten.

When Natalia tried to explain to Sonya the situation, the girl became depressed: “Mommy, I wanna dance, I wanna perform,” she said. The girl would not sit with the spectators trying to get on the stage. So Natalia says she had to take her home. Thus, Sonya neither took part in the performance, nor watched it.

The incident hasn’t passed unnoticed in Russia. The city authorities have already started an investigation into the case. Russian children’s rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov criticized the kindergarten’s manager, Alevtina Bragina, who is said to be behind the scandal.

“The educators can’t made a difference between special and normal children,” he said.

Bragina herself maintains what happened was sheer misunderstanding. She told LifeNews channel that all she wanted Natalia to do is to keep an eye on her daughter as one of the teachers was away.

“When Natalia came up I asked her: please do come to the concert with your daughter,” Bragina said.

Russian media also say the kindergarten is of a mixed type which means it can be attended by special needs children.
Kazan education authorities are looking into the matter, TASS reported Friday. Ramil Khalimov, who heads the local Education Ministry, says that Bragina has never had such scandals on her record.

“Why she decided to prevent the girl from taking part in the concert and whether it indeed happened - we will only be able to say after a probe,” he told TASS, adding that if the incident is proven the woman, who has been working in education for 40 years, may face dismissal from her post.