School Files Felony Assault Charges Against Nonverbal Autistic Girl
The Marion County School District in Alabama has filed felony assault charges against Emily Holcomb, a 14-year-old nonverbal, autistic girl, for hitting her special education teacher:
During the alleged assault on October 26, the teacher reported Emily hit and pushed her resulting in a 'mild injury'. In the complaint, Superintendent Hollingsworth noted its happened on more than one occasion.
Emily's mother says it was a violent act but just Emily's way of expressing frustration. "You have think about it -- she's trapped inside that body. And when people can't understand her it gets frustrating."
Emily's mother and her attorney -- James Gallini question the timing of the charge. Gallini says they had just settled an agreement with the school system to provide Emily's teachers a professional aide "for training, dealing with her level of autism," said Gallini. He believes the charge was an effort to get out of and circumvent the costly agreement. "At that point, it took it out of the special ed into the juvenile system."
Lydia at Autistic Hoya urges us to take action:
Why do school systems feel the need to criminalize autism? This blog tends to focus on issue and philosophy centered articles related to autism and advocacy, but this horrific, tragic turns of events is only more evidence of the deeply-rooted systemic problems in the way our country looks at differently-abled or disabled people, especially Autistic people. And something needs to be done. And something can be done -- by you and I, sitting here and reading this post. In fact, I've already created a Facebook group where you can read about the case and see updates.But for now, what can you actually do to help? You can write, email, or call the school's superintendent who filed the complaint, the district attorney of Marion County, and the deputy district attorney who seems to be handling the case, asking them to drop the case and any charges. Emily needs help, and she needs help now. This isn't some fancy theorizing or overly intellectual model of some idea -- this is the life of an actual person whom someone is trying to destroy.