Thursday, April 20, 2017

Maybe Don't Arrest Autistic 10-Year-Olds for Resisting Abuse


At what point in the U.S. are we finally going to collectively say "the police are out of control and maybe we should not have a profession available that attracted power-hungry abusers and gives them guns and authority"?

‘I don’t like to be touched’: Video shows 10-year-old autistic boy getting arrested at school

A school resource officer at Okeechobee Achievement Academy in Florida stood over the 10-year-old boy as his mother asked: “Does he have the same rights as an adult?” Then, the officer reached for the young boy’s wrists. 
“I don’t want to be touched,” John Benjamin said, throwing his hands in the air. “I don’t like to be touched.” 
His mother, Luanne Haygood, who was filming the emotional scene, said she and her son had been called into the school for state standardizing testing April 12; while they were there, she said, officers arrested her son for an incident that occurred in October. 
He spent the night behind bars at a juvenile facility, Haygood said. 
Haygood said John Benjamin, who has been diagnosed with autism, had kicked and scratched his paraprofessional educator (also known as an educational assistant) and, unknown to his own family, had an outstanding warrant for battery on a school board employee, a third-degree felony.


Anyone who knows anything about autism can probably tell you that autistic people are often touch repulsed - they have strong negative emotional reactions to being touched. The problem with our society is that so few people actually have any actual knowledge about autism. Even, apparently special educators assigned to autistic kids within specialized programs for kids with disabilities/autism. Or maybe they do have knowledge, but are also abusive shits.

Haygood, from Okeechobee, Fla., said her son, who was diagnosed with autism two years ago, has had an individualized education plan (IEP) since he started school and was assigned a paraprofessional educator last year. But, Haygood said, he had been having issues with his aide, claiming he was hurting him, and the school would not assign a new one. 
On Oct. 27, the educator reported, John Benjamin was being disruptive in class, “throwing paper balls around the classroom and hitting other students,” according to a probable cause affidavit. 
“When John Benjamin was asked to go to timeout he refused,” according to the court records. The educator “attempted to remove the student and sent him back to the timeout place. At this point, John Benjamin started kicking and scratching and punching” him. 
The educator “had to restrain the student, he advised he came around the student and wrapped his arms around the upper chest as to not restrict child’s breathing,” according to the documents.

So you grab a touch-repulsed autistic kid, are surprised when be starts flailing, and you respond by touching him even more and then charge him with a fucking felony.

What the fuck happened to us as a society that we're charging any 10-year-old kids with felonies. Children throw tantrums. Like, you'd be pressed to find a kid who hasn't. But unless they're a danger to themselves or others, you don't need to restrain them like that. And if you're a paraeducator assigned to an autistic kid, you should know that attempting to do so only makes the situation worse.

And if the kid was acting out, maybe it's because he didn't like his paraeducator because they were hurting him. But we never believe kids, and certainly not autistic kids. We tell them to report abuse but when they do we ignore them. Awesome.

This was probably highly traumatizing for this child. I feel so terrible and angry for him. Okeechobee Achievement Academy needs to answer for this.

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