J’can mom, husband outraged after autistic son roughed up at US school | Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News | Loop News

A Jamaican woman and her husband have been left shocked and outraged after the emergence of a video of a female teacher’s assistant violently reprimanding and shoving their five-year-old autistic son at a school in North Lauderdale, Florida in the United States.

Though the incident occurred on May 10, Jamaican Finola Long and her husband, John Fishley, were only last week notified of the incident which occurred at the Morrow Elementary School.

According to CBS News Miami, Long and her husband have since reported the manhandling of their son, Amani, to the police, as they believe the action by the teacher’s assistant amounted to child abuse.

In the video, the teacher’s assistant is seen violently grabbing the autistic child by his shirt and shoving him repeatedly. The woman then repeatedly pushed him to have him sit down in his seat.

Another adult female can be seen in the pre-kindergarten special needs classroom at the time the video was recorded, but that person did nothing to stop the assistant as she violently sought to get the child to comply with her requirements.

Long and Fishley were only shown the video by a therapist last Wednesday, May 25, two weeks after the incident.

“I started crying like maybe couple minutes after (seeing the video). It was horrible,” Long told reporters from CBS News Miami.

Her husband also described what he saw as being quite horrible.

“It was quite horrible to see him being treated worse than an animal,” the dad told reporters.

Fishley shared that Amani and his twin brother, Amari, both have autism, and are non-verbal.

However, Amani requires special attention, according to his father.

“He has tantrums, he self-harms, sometimes he bites himself and throws himself on the ground,” Fishley informed.

According to the United States’ Autism Research Institute, self-harm or self-injury “serves as a means of communication” for children living with autism because “often a child is trying to convey a feeling or idea they may not be able to express in words”.

The institute also said, “Biting, head-banging or other self-injurious behaviours are a means of getting their needs met, and may be their urgent need to express pain, fear, displeasure or anxiety.”

After seeing the disturbing footage, the parents went to the Broward Sheriff’s Office, where they filed an official report, and later confronted the head of the school about the treatment of their son.

“We found out on (last) Wednesday and the principal said she would launch an investigation (last) Friday, but we know that she was already informed about it sometime after the 10th (of May) after the incident,” said Fishley.

Reporters sent the video to the Broward School District Spokesman, John Sullivan, who responded in a statement.

He assured that the district would investigate what was seen in the video, and take action, where necessary.

While advocating that the teacher’s assistant should be removed from the classroom, the couple is of the view that their children may face similar abuse in school in the future if they (the parents) are not constantly there.

“…They won’t be able to speak up for themselves about stuff like that,” Fishley claimed.

The couple has since removed their two sons from the school, and are now searching for a new school for them in the new academic year starting in the fall, according to the media report.