For children with autism, being misunderstood is something that happens on a daily basis. With challenges in communication and frustrations rising, outbursts can be a normal occurrence. Back in October of 2016, Luanne Haygood’s autistic 10-year-old son John had an incident at school where he kicked and scratched a teacher.
As a result, he was expelled. Flash-forward to six-months later and upon returning to Okeechobee Alternative Academy for testing, John was arrested on the spot. Apparently an outstanding warrant had been issued to the home-schooled boy for felony battery on a school board authority. His family was blindsided and outraged by this shocking treatment of their disabled son.
“To go and have him arrested on school grounds in front of other students, in front of personnel, during school hours, they could’ve come to my house at any time to tell me what was going on,” Luanne told CBS in Miami. She recorded the entire traumatizing incident on her phone and posted it on Facebook. In the background of the video, she can be heard saying “he has autism” and “he doesn’t know what’s going on.”
After handcuffing her son, they hauled him off to jail for 24 hours where he only had one meal to eat. He appeared in court the next day in an orange jumpsuit in front of a judge, who set a later court date for him.
John will be under house arrest until he returns to court. Luanne is absolutely outraged at the mistreatment of her son and how ill-equipped the district is at being able to accommodate children with special needs like John.
She hopes the incident will help transform the system and ignite some desperately needed changes to help more children, instead of traumatize them the way they did her son.