A mother from Washington is upset after her son, who struggles with a behavioral disorder, was handcuffed at school before being suspended.
Amanda Bullinger said her 8-year-old son, Ayden, had been targeted by a bully at Brookdale Elementary over the past few months. On the morning of Feb. 27, Bullinger received a call from the school's principal, who told her that Ayden was in trouble.
"It was like 11:15-ish that I got a call. It was the principal," she told KING. "She said she had Ayden in the office and he had an altercation at recess."
Bullinger couldn't believe her eyes when she got to the school.
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"I get there and I see a police car in the parking lot, and I said, 'Oh this can't be good,'" she recalled. "I go into the office and Ayden is sitting in a chair, hands cuffed behind his back and a police office is holding him down … And Ayden is bright red crying, freaking out."
Ayden was then escorted out of the school by a school resource officer. He has since been suspended.
Due to federal privacy laws, details of what happened at recess have not been released by the school. However, according to a police report, Ayden became physically aggressive after shouting at the other boy: "I'm going to kill you."
Bullinger explained that her son suffers from sensory processing disorder, which she said can lead to anxiety and emotional crises.
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According to Brain Balance, most children with autism have some form of the disorder, but it can also affect children who are not on the spectrum. Those with hypersensitivity to sensory input are easily distracted, fear being touched, avoid being in close proximity to others and can have violent reactions to loud, high-pitched noises.
Children with hyposensitivity to sensory input behave in a very different manner. They have a constant need to touch people and things, are unable to appreciate personal space and oftentimes hurt other children or pets by accident. They may also engage in dangerous "thrill-seeking" behavior.
Willie Painter, a spokesman for Ayden's school, said the decision to handcuff him was a last resort.
"The use of restraint is only used when no other feasible option exists," Painter said.
But Bullinger is not satisfied with the school's explanation.
"He was an 8-year-old. There could have been other options," she said, adding that the handcuffs left bruises on Ayden's wrists.
KING reports that an NBC survey of federal data found that students with disabilities are 23 times more likely to be mechanically restrained by authorities at school.