Saturday, March 29, 2008

8 Year Old Autistic Boy Charged for Biting Teacher

According to the Tifton Gazette an 8 year old non verbal autistic boy at Horizon Academy in Tifton, Georgia has been charged with assault after he bit his teacher. The teacher claims to have been walking by the student, engaged in regular teaching duties, when he reached up and bit her on top of her right arm. (This seems a little strange if the boy was seated how was he able to reach up and bite her on top of her arm while she walked by?).

I am amazed that an 8 year old non verbal autistic boy was charged with assault in this case. Many severely autistic children bite themselves and others. It is sometimes a part of their neurological disorder. The boy might well have been overwhelmed by his placement in a classroom with other students and might have needed instruction in a quieter less stimulating environment.

On the basis of the facts reported in the Tifton Gazette .... it would not appear they know all that much about autism in Tifton, Georgia.

10 comments:

Flutekitty said...

Actually, we know a lot about autism in Tifton, Georgia. The problem is this so-called "Horizon Academy". We don't even know who they are. They are not part of the public schools here. They may be more of a day care. Don't let this isolated incident of idiots make you think we are all like that. I work with autistic child quite often. Both of my sisters have autistic boys. Anyway, I ran across your comments when doing some research on this whole mess. In a few days you will probably see some sort of retraction from the Gazette.

Anonymous said...

Tifton is my hometown... just last week the BOE finally decided to fire a paraprofessional for biting a student 2 months after the incident happened--no charges were ever filed against the parapro either. She was also hired without a required background check that contained several red flags--such as she hit a child in a school situation.

Now, you have a child with impulse problems and does not have the ability to VOICE his problems and they immediately arrest the child for assault on the teacher.

There is a lot of public outrage over this situation. I, myself, am outraged because my oldest child has Autism so I KNOW how things can be with a child like this.

Schools have all adopted these "zero tolerance" policies when it comes to violence, but what they haven't considered is they have now TERRORIZED a disabled child--and the situation of the child biting the teacher was most likely a need to get the teacher's attention and at the moment he could not recall the proper way to do it.

No the child should not have bitten the teacher, however if the school was doing what they should be doing with the child therapy wise, this would not have happened. It also could have been retaliation for something the teacher did a month earlier that he did not like. they will probably never know because this child cannot speak for himself and they have officially scared that child to death and will NEVER be able to approach an officer if he needs help in any way.

Autism Reality NB said...

Thank you to flutekitty and anonymous for dropping by and providing some background to this story.

J said...

It's great that people from Tifton stopped by with some insight about how their community is reacting to the story. It's so sad that the boy with autism was treated the way he was--after all he was only eight and had autism to boot.

Just wanted to drop by and say thanks for commenting on my post about parental grief. I always (or at least try to) appreciate and respect views that do not match my own. Your comment was respectful and added a needed something to the discussion. Thanks again, jml.

Anonymous said...

I'm from Tifton, where the 8 year old autistic child bit the "teacher". I had never heard of this school and I have a 7 year old autistic son, so I started checking on it. First; nolisting in the phone book, yellow or white pages, so then I looked at the State of Georgia accredited schools list, not there either, nor with the Health dept or any other office. So then I checked the "teacher" and the director's names. No licenses or certifications for them either. This is a classic case of another fraudulent fascility set up to take advantage of desperate parents who will do anything and pay anything for the "best" treatment of their special needs children. My son goes to the public school and I have recieved nothing but support from his teachers and the school system. My son has made MAJOR progress in public school. My point is that parents should not be so quick to snatch their kids out of public schools away from honest-to-god, certified, back-ground checked teachers to put them in some place with people who have no credentials to be working with ANY kind of children.

Anonymous said...

I'm from Tifton, where the 8 year old autistic child bit the "teacher". I had never heard of this school and I have a 7 year old autistic son, so I started checking on it. First; nolisting in the phone book, yellow or white pages, so then I looked at the State of Georgia accredited schools list, not there either, nor with the Health dept or any other office. So then I checked the "teacher" and the director's names. No licenses or certifications for them either. This is a classic case of another fraudulent fascility set up to take advantage of desperate parents who will do anything and pay anything for the "best" treatment of their special needs children. My son goes to the public school and I have recieved nothing but support from his teachers and the school system. My son has made MAJOR progress in public school. My point is that parents should not be so quick to snatch their kids out of public schools away from honest-to-god, certified, back-ground checked teachers to put them in some place with people who have no credentials to be working with ANY kind of children.

Anonymous said...

I left the first Anonymous post and I am flute kitty's sister. From what I understand, this "school" is the "former" CPES (psychoeducational) program for the county...apparently privatized or something to that effect and the school system still uses them.

The morning after this story got back to me, I called my parent worker with my local school system and told her about it. What she told me, shocked me.

At every meeting, as most "special ed" parents know, you are handed several poorly photocopied pages of the "rules" designed to protect your child's rights in Georgia. In these rules it is VERY clear in the fact that a child CANNOT be arrested for an incident that is a trait of their disability. In no case can they receive the "maximum" penalty for those things.

What people don't understand is that this law applies to EVERY educational setting.

This "Horizon Academy" has set itself up for one heck of a lawsuit for traumatizing this child and rightfully so.

Anonymous said...

I too, am from Tifton and I was astounded that a CHILD with a social disability that creats such disconnection from his environment, would be CHARGED WITH A CRIME for behavior he is incapable of controlling. I say SHAME ON YOU, "teacher" for even bringing the incident notice. A true teacher would have handled it completely differently; and with LOVE.

I really love Tifton, but it is not perfect. One glaring problem is the Draconian hand that the "education system" has here with ALL of its students. The slightest infraction (I am not making this up) garners the student days, sometimes weeks of suspension and often there is no arbitration for the student to tell their story. Friends who now live in other areas of the country proclaim the warmth, understanding and ease with which students' issues are addressed. Unfortunately, NOTHING CHANGES when a different superintendant, board member or principal come to the schools. To me, it is the defining, glaring negative of this community that has so very much to offer in other respects.

Anonymous said...

I can symphathize, I live in Dothan, AL and my 8 year old Autistic son has been charged with 2nd Degree Assualt by his Special Ed teacher (for scratching her arm) and Harrassment (for throwing pine straw at her and kicking her in the knee). Why do special ed teachers like that even work in special ed if they do not really want to work with disabled children?

Tiffany Padgett said...

I am Tift County High student and my brother has Anxiety Disorder and has not been communicating well with his teachers and was suggested to be sent to Horizons Academy even though he is passing all his classes with tremendous grades. He has only been enrolled since August. 5 months. All inhabitants of Tifton need to open up those eyes of yours and realize that Tifton is by far out of range for handling disorders. An Autistic eight year old charged for what is naturally a symptom of Autism. You must be kidding with me!