Sunday, January 10, 2010

Autistic boy slapped with felony assault

Zakh Price is 11 years old and holds a functioning IQ of 68, as far as anyone knows. It’s really hard to believe they know enough about this child at all since they want to have him charged with felony assault. Did I mention he has autism?

Zakh’s family literally begged the school district in Arkansas for an IEP and were denied. Even when one was finally established, it wasn’t followed. The school personnel ignored all advice on how to properly deal with Zakh and that led to disaster. In October he had a behavior incident caused by his autism and they chose to try an restrain him. In doing so, they cornered him and triggered a fight or flight response. Two staff were injured and they called the police on this child. The failing against this boy just continued as they took him away in handcuffs.

First of all, restraint is not meant to be a forced manhandling and arm twisting when it comes to a disturbed child. It must be done with great care and as a last resort to protect the child from harming him/herself or others. It is NOT a punishment for destruction of property, breaking a pencil or tearing up a piece of paper kind of baloney.

The charges are a complete miscarriage of justice. They apparently would have you believe that Zakh Price had a choice in “assaulting” the staff. They need to try and see it through his eyes. How well would you react to being mobbed, grabbed forcibly and yanked around? That may not have been the staff’s intention based on my words, but I guarantee you its exactly how it felt through Zakh’s autistic nerves.

That damage is now mentally compounded by slapping handcuffs on him in front of his peers (like having a meltdown isn’t embarrassing enough) and hauling him off to jail like a hardened criminal. Mark my words, Arkansas, you are robbing this child of any chance at educational success or a functional future. And I have to believe that Zakh is not alone.

Why do I address the State level? Because they should be stepping in on this, that’s why. The State government of Arkansas should be appalled at the lack of professional behavior and handling, punishing a child for having a condition he cannot control. They should be leaping in to action, even if just to save face, but certainly for the sake of a child.

I think every organization we have should be pounding on the school systems doors right now. It’s clear to me, from reading Zakh Price’s story across multiple websites and blogs, that the education and judicial system of Arkansas needs and overhaul. Especially in the light of special needs children.

Zakh has a hearing coming up on his felony charges and the family is struggling trying to find an attorney who will take the case and not the clothes off their backs with it. Because of how so many sites don’t like links, I invite you to check out my face book page for a link to the article or just google his name, it’s everywhere. Please try to think, think what if it were your child? Wouldn’t you be infuriated? As a member of the autistic community, I am.

1 comment:

Vince. Father of 4, 3 with Autism. said...

That this could happen to any child in this day and age is an absolute disgrace. Even more-so that this child has a nationally and internationally recognised form of Autism. What's worse is it's not an isolated issue... a 6 year old boy on the Autistic spectrum was also charged with Assault in Ky in 2007 after an incident with a teacher's aide. The very notion that 6 year olds and 11 year olds can be treated this way is beyond my sense of human comprehension! How can you arrest a kid after he's been attacked by grown ups? The world needs to stand up and make a noise, and let the people in charge know that we aren't going to let them get away with this mistreatment anymore! Someone needs to pay for this big mess, and it sure as heck shouldn't be Zakh or his Grandma. If this had happened here in Australia I'm pretty sure it would've been the teacher and the principal that were led away in handcuffs for abusing the child in the first place.

The rest of the world is watching you online America, and we're not impressed with what we're seeing!!!