Center for Autism & Related Disabilities director calls arrest of special needs child "deplorable'

Posted at 5:59 PM, Apr 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-14 18:01:42-04

After watching the disturbing videothat shows an Okeechobee County 10-year-old with autism being placed in handcuffs and arrested at school Wednesday, Dr. Jack Scott, the executive director of the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities, or CARD, said this arrest should have never happened.

“I find it deplorable, when I saw it in the video,” said Scott. “This should never be handled criminally in my view.”

Scott says that a child with special needs should not be punished for his or her disability, and he believes authorities should have taken much different route to offer a more supportive environment.

According to the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office, the 10 year-old was accused of battery on a school employee in November, which is a 3rd degree felony. Though, his mother explained to us that her son acted out, kicking the teacher because he didn’t feel safe.

It’s also not clear exactly why authorities took six months to make the arrest.

“It could have been done much more sensitively, recognizing the child’s special needs and their age; the child is ten-years-old. Give me a break,” said Scott.

The sheriff’s office explained they were not aware that the child had special needs, even though the mother can be heard saying this on the video. And prosecutors said the complaint was filed by the school employee who was injured.

“How they could not have included information about the child’s special needs is beyond me?” said Scott.

Scott says there are so many other routes and options that should and could have been taken by either the sheriff’s office or the school district.

“They can work with an agency called the Severe Emotion Disturbance Network sponsored by Florida Department of Education," Scott said.

According to the mother, Wednesday, the day of the arrest, was the 10-year-old's first day back at school for testing since he had spent months at home on homebound.