Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Child With Autism Arrested!

Shocking! I am hoping this school can rethink their plan and gear it toward the situation involving that particular kid instead of some generic "rule."

FROM ABC: An Idaho mom was left outraged when school officials ordered her autistic 8-
year-old daughter handcuffed and taken from the school in a police car.

Outside her Ponderay home, 8-year-old Evelyn Towry, in her pink boots and
favorite sweatshirt explains why she's now suspended from school.

(Evelyn) "Because I was trying to leave and they hold me down." Evelyn is a third grader at Kootenai Elementary and has Asperger's Syndrome, a high functioning form of Autism. On Friday she started to act out.

(Spring) "She wanted to attend a Christmas party in her cow sweatshirt and they told her she couldn't that she would have to tuck the tail in and put ears down and she dug her heels in the way she does quite often and said she wouldn't take it off."

Spring says that when Evelyn tried to leave anyway, two teachers restrained her, which is when Evelyn began kicking, pinching and spitting on the teachers. (Evelyn) "Well, I kicked because I was upset they were holding me down and I got thumb bruises on me."

School officials then called the police and Evelyn's mom. When Spring got to school to pick her daughter up, police were already escorting Evelyn in handcuffs out of the building and into a police cruiser. Police then took her to a local juvenile detention center where she stayed for an hour, after which she was allowed to go home.

(Spring) "I was terrified and I was scared and I was hurt and I wanted to throw up. I wanted to take my baby with me." School officials responded to a request for an interview for this story by
e-mail, with the district superintendent saying they followed a specific safety plan for Evelyn which was agreed upon by the district and her mental health provider.

The plan, according to the district, says that "If a student assaults staff it is appropriate to call parents, involved support agencies, and local law enforcement officials if needed. All of the above occurred regarding this unfortunate incident." (Spring) "I never saw the plan, I never signed the plan."

On Tuesday morning the Bonner County prosecutor charged Evelyn with one count of battery. By Tuesday afternoon the charge was dropped. (Spring) "I think it's absolutely ridiculous. She doesn't even know what battery is." Spring Towry and her husband are now pursuing civil action. While they don't excuse their daughter's behavior, Spring says it didn't have to go this far.

(Spring) "I don't want this to happen to another child or another parent."

-NewsAnchorMom Jen


Anonymous said...

I found this acticle to be very upsetting. I do not have a child with autism. I do although have a child at age 5 that was "lost" at school twice within 4 weeks time. The teacher's solution was to then velcro my child to his desk. After I was extremely vocal with the school staff, and board about my concerns for my child's saftey. Unfortunatley the concern I had made us as a family a target. A target for other parents to label us as bad parents with bad kids. After much counseling, and huge attorney fees, because of the treatment my son endured,and the huge change of moving to a new house and differnet school we have had the wonderful joy of knowing we did what was right for our children. My advice to any family going through hell with a school district.. is GET OUT or homeschool. You are your child's only true advocate. Also check out It will give you some insight as to how other parents and students rate your school. You might just find you are not the only ones going through hell.

Anonymous said...

This is the very reason we have chosen to homeschool our 6 1/2 year old son with Asperger's Syndrome. I am not excusing or allowing such behavior. However, by homeschooling our son, his education, safety, and self-esteem will not be compromised.
Thank you for posting the article.

Diana said...

OMGosh! I get so fired up and upset when I hear about things like this. It's horrible and it's abuse in my book! The child was not right to do what she did but the staff was definitely not right to physically restrain her in such a way that she received bruises. For one, their adults and should be able to control themselves better. Secondly, the child is Autistic and Autistic people have trouble expressing themselves verbally and have to be handled differently from other children. I'm not saying that she should have preferential treatment over the other kids. If she does wrong, she needs to be reprimanded but it should be in a way that she can understand and deal with. Terrorizing the child like these people did is completely unacceptable!
Also, keeping her from the party just because she didn't want to take the hoodie off is just plain stupid. SOunds like a power trip on the part of the teacher to me. What was it going to hurt?

I hope the girl and her family find some peace over this and also a better equiped school setting for Evelyn.

Anonymous said...

I am a student studying special education in which I want to specialize working with Autism. Maybe the teachers needed to realize that she needed to wear her sweatshirt which may have brought her comfort. Why were the teachers so annoyed about her wearing the sweatshirt. Kids wear worse clothes to school than that now in these days. Where was the room in which the child could have cooled down as I know some schools have rooms that children can go to that will not cause any damage but they can let off steam. Sounds like it became out of control before the police arrived. I am not a teacher yet and will begin student teaching but I hope to provide safety for a student and at least her mother had her dressed for the cold. Just support the child and allow them to know that their parents want the best because there are many cases in which the parents do not care.

Anonymous said...

I have an autistic daughter who is 13. She has on several occasions become physical with staff at school and has been restrained. She have NEVER had bruises of any kind from the restraint and has never been arrested for battery. Obvisoulsy this school district and staff needs intensive training in dealing with special needs kids and how to properly use restraint when necessary. If they do not have the proper facitlies then they must send her somewhere that does.

Anonymous said...

An 8 year old child with asperger syndrome is much like a 2-year old. Would they do this to a 2 year old? The child should have been allowed to wear her shirt. The teachers need training in dealing with this child and others like her.Yes, they do fight when being held down but to bring the police in and call this assault on staff is not right. If anything it was an assault on that child not only physical assault but mental as well.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to know more details about what types of behaviors have been exhibited prior to this. Also, did this child have a 1-on-1 aid per her IEP? If so this should not have escalated in this way. Sometimes, however, due to prior incidents, parent response time, and student and staff safety police custody may be needed. If an officer responds to a call where any person in hurting another person, hand-cuffs will be used. They are not used to hurt the child, but to protect themselves and others from more serious harm. I've heard of many instances were a school official spoke with a parent to pick up their student for inappropriate behaviors, and it's just not a priority for the parent. It may take all day. Until more details are available, I'm sorry to offend, but I've got to side with the school. Every other parent from that school should be thankful that student was removed for their childs safety. Maybe it's time to update somebody's IEP.

Diana said...

To the poster that sided with the school-

As I understood the article, the child fought them like that because she was being restrained when she tried to leave the room. If that is indeed the case, the child was only trying to protect herself from the people holding her down. She was already isolated from the other children.

As I said before, none of this would have happened had they just let her wear the silly hoodie in the first place. Totally uncalled for.

Anonymous said...

I have a sister with full Autism. She has a few items that help keep her centered and calm, and she will not part with said items in environments in which she feels threatened or uncomfortable. The cow sweatshirt must act in the same manner for this poor child. I cannot imagine how scared this child must have felt in this situation. We as humans are no different than animals in some situations, when we feel threatened, we fight back in whatever manner we are able. In this child's case, verbal reasoning is not an option due to her Autism, and she responded to physical "threats" in a physical way. Life is hard enough for individuals with Autism/Asperger's and it is sad for us as a society that they have to endure additional hardship on account of an uninformed few.

Anonymous said...

I too am studying to be a special educator and I really don't understand why this whole scenario even took place. What would have been the problem to just let her wear her sweatshirt?

I would definately pursue this issue if I were the parent and find a good attorney.

I am going to bring this article to the attention of my teacher and see what she thinks.

Anonymous said...

First it does NOT sound like this girl has Asberger Syndrome...Acting out due to emotions is NOT Asbergers. Neither is the ability to articulate why she had chose to have certain behaviors. There is a whole lot more going on with this kid! Seems the teachers are being expected to deal with a child who has a Behavior Disorder...Once again taking away from the majority of children.

Anonymous said...

Usually when a child or adult with an autism spectrum disorder has a meltdown it is triggered by someone who doesn't understand enough about the complexities of the disorder. People with autism commonly have a wide range of communication difficulties from not being able to communicate much at all to being very verbal but unable to express their needs. There are many sensory issues as well. They include all five senses (taste, touch, vision, hearing and smell), in addition to proprioceptive and vestibular senses. Being aware of when people on the spectrum are becoming anxious, using de-esculation techniques and providing desensitization training are essential to keep meltdowns from escalating to the point where someone fells it is necessary to use force, which is exactly what happened in this situation.

Anonymous said...

This article is upsetting to me I am now in the process of transitioning my child from easter seals to the school district for his needs and now I am even more nervous than when I started. I feel that teachers need to be better trained on the syndrome that our children are faced with. I think that this school district went totally overbaord and I have to say that I would have probably been arrested to for disturbing the peace because I would have lost it. This child doesn't understand the concept of battery nor does she grasp that they didn't want her to wear her sweatshirt that is what she wanted and at that time that had all her focus and she reacted the way she did from the way they where treating her. This was totally inappropriate.

Anonymous said...

Basically, the only difference between autism and Asperger Syndrome is people with Asperger's did not experience a language delay as a young child. There was a comment about a one-on-one assistant per her IEP. Just because a child has an IEP does not guarantee them a one-on-one assistant. However, I would be curious as to whether she had an appropriate Behavior Intervention Plan implemented, which should include a place where she could go to calm herself.

Anonymous said...

I am a speical education teacher and I am amazed at the lack of support for the school! I interact with children with Autism, Aspergers, Down SYndrome, Fragile X, behavior disorders, CP, etc. on a daily basis. As far as the rule about no hood up, the job of the school is to prepare these students for life in the real world which includes respecting and following the expectaions of society. Allowing him or her to slide by ANY infractions of rules is just teaching that child insubordination. Additionally, nobody here knows exactly how severe her Asperger's is. It is a specturm disorder, so EVERY child is different and can NOT be characterized by a certain comonality. We don't know the child or exactly what happened that day. Lastly, if my child behaved the way she did, I would have been thankful the police intervened. The police are especially trained in physically handling individuals who are being aggressive. And who is to say the girl did not give herself the bruises while trying to get out of the building and fighting the staff. I agree that the girl needs to have a behavior plan in place and that the staff may need more training. As I stated, we don't really know what happened that day except from the side of the mother. If they did bruise the girl then shame on them, but unless there were cameras, we will never know.

Coach Dave said...

This is so unfortunate considering a better understanding of children with special needs and how to work with PEOPLE could have prevented this. A basic understanding of human interactions can solve so much more than brute force with a child regardless of their diagnosis. Unfortunate that the teacher isn't properly equiped to do the job.

Anonymous said...

I, too, work directly with students with autism, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and many other disabilities on a daily basis. Yes, we would like them to be accepted and valued in their community. However, I can accept and respect them for their differences and who they are. And, if they need to wear an article of clothing to be comfortable or keep their hood up because it keeps the visual and auditory stimuli from overwhelming them, so be it. That may be what they need to cope with the "real world". I see many adults without disablities who think it is socially acceptable to swear. That is something I would not want my students to learn to do to "appear" to be "socially acceptable".

The only thing that will probably come from an 8 year old placed in handcuffs is added traumatization, which will most likely increase, not decrease her negative behavior. There are many positive behavior techniques available to teach children so that they become acceptable to society.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Dave.

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