Last week, an absolutely horrifying incident happened in a central Kentucky school. Nine-year-old Chris Baker has autism, and is enrolled in a special program at Mercer County Intermediate School for special-needs kids. Last Thursday, he started acting out, and someone punished him by putting him in a duffel bag.
The day had barely begun when his family was called to the school because Chris, who is enrolled in a program for students with special needs, was acting up.
Walking toward his classroom, his mother saw the gym bag. There was a small hole at the top, she said, and she heard a familiar voice.
“Momma, is that you?” Chris said, according to his mother.
A teacher’s aide was there, and Baker demanded that her son be released. At first, the aide struggled to undo the drawstring, but the boy was pulled out of the bag, which had some small balls inside and resembled a green Army duffel bag, Baker said.
According to WLEX-TV in Lexington, Chris was diagnosed with ADHD in 2009, and a year later was diagnosed with autism.
Incredibly, school officials told Chris' mom that the bag was a type of therapy--and apparently it isn't the first time he's been put in there. It was the first Chris' mom had even heard about this. Even more incredible--apparently Kentucky doesn't have any laws against this practice. But you'd think you wouldn't need a law against it in this day and age.
Needless to say, advocates for special-needs kids are outraged.
Landon Bryce of San Jose, Calif., a former teacher who blogs about issues related to autism, said the school’s treatment of Chris was “careless and disrespectful.”
“A lot of the damage that we do to students with all kinds of disabilities is by treating them as though they deserve to be treated in a way that’s different from other people,” Bryce said.
Bryce writes in his blog that Chris was placed in a ball bag that is commonly used for therapy. However, when Chris was pulled out of the bag, he was sweating all over and his eyes were "as big as half dollars." According to Bryce, there is no way in the world that this is an appropriate use of that bag. And even without that to consider, why weren't his parents told about the kind of therapy they were using.
An awful lot of people need to be fired for this. Sign this petition to the county school board and prevent this from ever happening again.