The majority of special education teachers I know, from either friends in the field, those who reach out to me for advice and/or those I speak with when I go speak in the schools about topics like inclusion and autism, are spectacular and truly are the backbone of our educational system.

With that being said every once in a while I hear of a story that makes me cringe. An example of this is the story of April Chandler, a special education teacher in Sumner County was arrested for the abuse of a five-year-old nonverbal student who is on the autism spectrum.

NWSMV News 4, reported after obtaining an arrest affidavit that,

“A teacher aide told police that the boy with autism pulled papers off a bulletin board. When the aide started to put the paper back on the board, Chandler reportedly said “Don’t worry about that. I’m going to get him.” Chandler then grabbed the boy’s arm in a “forceful, angry manner,” according to the affidavit. The aide took photographs of red marks and scratches on the boy’s arm.”

As information continues to develop I’m sure will hear more about this story however as someone who used to be nonverbal and dealt with challenges in school I could only imagine being in a situation like this, let alone what this family is going through right now.

We need to continue to provide a safe learning environment for all students (those both with autism and not) so they can thrive. For those with nonverbal autism who might not be able to speak up when a situation like this occurs makes it even more important to have the best educators possible.