Autism Unexpected: Fifth Grade Felon?

I spend a lot of time thinking and writing about how lucky I am to have my kids in the school they are in. I am fortunate to have a school administration supportive of special education kids and their needs. My son Jack has been a tough kid for my school from literally his first day there. And from that first day the principal has told me, “We like Jack. We want him here.”

I know that all kids aren’t so lucky. In schools all over this country, special education kids are merely tolerated, if that. If you pay attention to special education news, you will find story after story of school children who are treated badly by the very people their parents are trusting to teach and care for them. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because of the case of Zakhquery Price, an autistic fifth grader in Arkansas.

This child was restrained after a meltdown at his school. Evidently two staff members were mildly injured during the restraint, and after this 11-year-old child was led away in handcuffs, he was charged with a felony.

I wasn’t there. I don’t know what really happened. But I can’t imagine what could warrant charging an 11-year-old with a felony. I can’t imagine that taking this disabled child away from his loving family is the answer. I am horrified every time I read a story about this family, who has four children with autism, has already suffered the death of a child, and is desperately trying to raise funds to keep their child out of a mental institution.

My kids’ school isn’t perfect, but I am thankful for it every day.

Originally posted at Autism Unexpected on January 11, 2010.