Op-Ed: When a 10 year old with #Autism is arrested for assault 

If you haven’t already heard about this story, you can read in on CNN by clicking here

After reading the article about John Haygood, a 10 year old little boy with Autism, being arrested for assaulting his teacher, I was at a loss for words. As a father of three boys with Autism, my gut reaction is one of anger. 

Based on the article, it seems that John had been experiencing behavioral problems of varying degrees, not all that uncommon for kids on the Autism Spectrum. 

The incident that apparently sparked this entire situation took place last October. 
John was being disruptive in class, throwing paper balls at classmates, and was asked to go to time out. He refused and it appears the teacher went to physically move him and that’s when he lashed out. The teacher was left with marks and scratches, according to the article. There’s also reports of John threatening to kill the teacher as well. 

That teacher later pressed charges against John and that’s the crux of where we are. I encourage you to read the article on CNN and or view the actual police reports by clicking here and downloading the pdf… On the CNN page, there’s video of the arrest, taken by his mother and pictures showing his arms being handcuffed behind his back. 

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    1. LaKenya

      In the video of the arrest, shown on my local news, you could clearly hear the mom stating that he has autism. I absolutely couldn’t believe my eyes! From an educator’s perspective, you want and need to feel safe and in control of your classroom. As a parent it made me angry and fearful. What if that was my child? I can’t fathom the rationale behind calling the police on a special needs student. What message does that send to the other students?

  1. My son was also arrested at a young age, cuffed and stuffed. School didn’t tell the officer he had autism nor how to contact me. I called CPD to find out where he was, to make sure they knew he has autism and doesn’t know his phone number. Nobody would it could tell me where he was. When I finally heard from faircrest they m mentioned how hard it had been to contact me as he didn’t know his phone number. I was horrified that the school would do this and not bother giving the officers pertinent information for a child they knew had a communication disorder. Incidentally, he had give out a window into a roof after being chased by staff. The principal crawled out with him to try and get him back inside. He was panic stricken and trapped without an escape. His crime was throwing a rock he found at the principal to make him stay away. They also knew his personal space needs increased with anxiety. And they didn’t have a plan. I don’t blame the principal for going out after him. But it was a whole big mess on the first day of school, with a sub in the classroom and he was doing great until the principal went to check on how it was going and my kid panicked thinking he was in trouble. The principal said that the sub told him everything was going great and he had been fine until then. Now I can laugh about it. I could not then. Now I can see the good that came of it, but at the time it was utter despair. The police is not a behavior plan. Never ever. BTW, I was hit, scratched, pinched and has my hair torn out by Alzheimer’s pathogens when working in the nursing home. I could file charges, but to what end? I would look like an asshole, and the patient is not competent, not even maybe. A panicked kid with autism has more in common with those patients than you think. And I’m telling you nobody would ever think it acceptable to file felony charges against that poor demented grandma. Not ever. Why is it acceptable to do this to a child that has behavioral needs and limited understanding of consequences?

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