This past week in Ottawa has not been a pleasant one for the autism community. In Ottawa, ON a teenager is currently having charges pressed against him for assaulting the school’s vice principal during a meltdown he was experiencing on December 5. According to an article posted in the Ottawa Citizen, this is what happened:
The boy was being escorted back inside the school by the vice-principal. He had been on a routine “body break” from class with two educational assistants, who were not his usual support staff, according to the notes.
As he was being escorted back to the building, a car alarm went off. Then he was caught in a hall as Grade 7 and 8 students were exiting class en masse for lunch. According to the notes from the meeting, the principal arrived on the scene and “stated a directive” to the boy.
“All he wanted to do was go to his locker and get his backpack,” says his mother.
Then, according to an email the board sent to the Citizen: “The student ran towards (the) principal with one hand extended, struck the principal in the side of the head with enough force to lift her off the ground and throw her down the hallway. The principal required medical attention at the scene and follow-up treatment.
“The (vice principal) had to try to re-direct the student away from the principal who was on the ground because the student was aggressively approaching the principal again. The vice-principal also required medical attention.”
Because the two caregivers were not his usual, they were not familiar with his IEP. Hence why things like loud noises, being swarmed by all the students during lunch break, and how the principal spoke to him lead to the assault. On the one hand, even with caregivers that normally help him through the day, this incident might have still happened. It is one of the downsides to autism. On the other hand, the back up caregivers should have known better.
What is interesting about this story is that the school did not press charges. In fact, the Ottawa police school liaison officer did. Not the people the assault was against, but the actual police. I cannot comment on why the officer chose to pursue this route. What I can comment on is that meltdowns of such an extreme nature is part of this young man’s autism, and something he will have to live with for the rest of his life. Many reactions have been said about this and here I am sharing my thoughts. Continue reading