|(Choice of image by Editor, "Towards Better Health")|
by Janis Hoffmann, Letter to the Editor, oliverchronicle.com, 26 July 2016
Around April 2012, Tyler, who was then seven years old and in Grade 2, started coming home with severe headaches that corresponded with increasing fatigue and sleeping difficulties. The first few times Tyler was asked to place his finger where it hurt and he would touch the top of his head. But later, as the headaches increasingly became worse to the point of nausea, Tyler was unable to touch the pain, stating it was in the middle of his head.
After many weeks of taking Advil and Tylenol to alleviate severe pain in his head, we knew something was seriously wrong. We were discussing the problem with some parents on the school ground and discovered a WiFi router had been installed in the school just weeks before.
Tyler’s pediatrician requested that Tyler return to school with the WiFi transmitter turned off so he could start a process of elimination to see if the WiFi was giving Tyler the headaches. Our request to the first school district was denied. We were told they couldn’t turn the WiFi off, even though they weren’t using it, because it would set a precedent. If they turned it off for us they would have to turn it off for everyone.
Tyler was unable to complete Grade 2 with his friends and we were dismissed from the first school district.
For the next four years Tyler was moved around within Victoria and Saanich school district and he has now graduated into middle school where we were assured that there was only 25 per cent coverage. We were told he would be placed as far away from the WiFi routers as possible so he could attend school with his friends.
On September 11 I received call to pick Tyler up because he had a severe headache. Tyler suffered through the long drive home and immediately went to bed to see if he could alleviate his pain. He started vomiting around 5 p.m. and his headache carried on until he finally fell asleep around 8 p.m. that evening. Throughout that time Tyler was given the recommended doses of Tylenol and Advil as per his doctor’s instructions, but nothing seemed to alleviate his pain.
These headaches are debilitating, excruciatingly painful and the longer he is exposed the more severe his headache, nausea, extreme fatigue and insomnia will be. Unfortunately with electro-hypersensitivity (EHS), avoidance is the only answer.
We were assured there was only 25 per cent WiFi coverage in Royal Oak Middle School as per the policy, when in fact the school has 100 per cent coverage and able to download 30 laptops from a commercial WiFi router three classrooms away.
Now Tyler has suffered eight injuries this year alone from the accumulative and prolonged exposure to the microwave radiation from two different frequencies.
As a temporary solution Tyler was pulled out of his homeroom and placed in a separate room downstairs. Tyler was really upset, frustrated and angry about being downstairs for five hours a day with no contact with any of his peers. He feels he was dumped downstairs and forgotten, left there to do his work on his own. He was frustrated that he can go a day or two without even having anyone checking on him to see how he’s doing.
Imagine, being 11 years old and your only social contact with your peers is in a school setting, but you are isolated in a room by yourself. Tyler really wants to be back in a classroom with his peers, to have the teacher in the room to actually teach him and to ask questions when help is needed like all other Grade 6 students.
He has now lost contact with all of his friends.
Tyler enters and exits the school as quickly as possible, keeping his head down to avoid eye contact in fear of being questioned about the situation. Tyler has expressed feelings of embarrassment, humiliation, loneliness, anxiety and is losing hope of ever finding a school where he can make friends. Tyler is a shy, gentle boy who just wants to be accepted by his friends and be a part of the school community, something he has yet to experience.
As part of the school experience students have an opportunity to meet socially and form friendships with others who have common interests. Tyler has a fundamental right to participate and socialize with his peer group and have the opportunity to build life skills that include communication, cooperation, and team bonding. These foundational components help to form a person into their adulthood and extend long beyond school years. Tyler has yet to experience a sense of connectedness and school community that is so crucial for his academic and adult life.
In April 2016 Tyler was attending school for 1.5 hours on Wednesdays in the room downstairs with a teacher one on one. The rest of the week he was sitting at home when he should have been participating in activities with his friends at school.
Tyler initially was so excited about attending middle school this year only to have his expectations crushed. Every attempt to attend school has resulted in another painful injury from the microwave radiation that blankets the inside of the school.
Tyler should be provided with reasonable accommodation, affording him inclusion and dignity while building his self-esteem and personal growth, but sadly he has only experienced the burden of isolation.
Tyler has the right to access public education in a safe learning environment free of known carcinogens, especially when safer hard-wired connections to the Internet already exist.
On June 22 our appeal to the board of trustees in the Saanich school district to turn off one WiFi transmitter and set of policy of no cell phone use during school hours in one section of the school was denied and dismissed.
Tyler has nowhere to go to school for Grade 7.