A Bermudian couple living in Ohio has started a Facebook campaign to help draw attention, and seek justice, for their autistic son, whom they say was abused by a teacher.
The couple say their four year old son suffered abuse including being held upside down by his feet, and having the teacher force his jaw open while forcing him to the ground, and is now suffering from the emotional effects of the alleged abuse.
His mother, Ashlie O’Connor, asked for people to “Please show your support, show Adam your support, please comment on Justice for Adam’s wall.” The page has attracted over 1,100 fans as of this writing, and you can join it here.
The Facebook page tells the full story, which is reprinted below:
Hello and thank you for taking the time to read our story, Adam’s story. As many of you were asking us what has happened to Adam, I decided to start this facebook page as a way to inform you and others of the serious wrong my son endured while attending pre-school. I am trying to achieve justice for Adam, but no matter where I turn no-one seems to be listening, no-one wants to hear me or Adam.
To help other’s understand I have decided to write his story, for him and us.
Adam has always been a loving, compassionate, and gentle soul from the time he was conceived. We were blessed with an amazing child who would impact our lives in ways we never imagined.
At age two, we saw Adam was not talking, verbalizing anything. It was apparent there was some sort of speech delay. Although during family discussions the possibility of Adam having Autism was brought up, it was something my husband and I did not even want to think about. We decided to make an appointment with his doctor. Duarte, Adam’s father, purchased flash cards and sat with Adam many times during a day and practiced words, encouraging him to speak. We also purchased the program “Your Baby Can Read”. Soon we noticed a change in Adam, Duarte’s persistence was working. Adam started to talk. He went from 0 to 25 words in 3 months.
In August we were to receive Adam’s diagnosis. It felt like forever….test after test, talking with doctors, spending time assessing Adam on his own . . . would it ever end I thought to myself. They had their decision . . . “Mr. and Mrs.. . . . . . . . . although Adam has shown a lot of improvement and he has come very far in these past few months, with the information we have gathered and after spending time with Adam, we have concluded that he is definitely within the Autism Spectrum. Albeit slight, one of the reasons why it was hard for us to arrive at this diagnosis, your son does have special needs. Adam’s brain is like a computer, he truly is a genius and now we need to help him output the input he is getting”. I will never forget the feeling of inadequacy, what had I done, It felt like someone told me my son was not there, my hopes and dreams for him were shattered, I didn’t know how to respond but to cry and sob in my husband’s arms. My Adam noticed I was upset. I will never forget how he stood up, walked over to me and looked me in the eyes and wiped my tears. It was then I knew I had to pull myself together because he needed me now more than ever.
On the advice of the doctors involved with Adam, Duarte and I started Adam in the “Help Me Grow Program” and when he turned 3, he started “Early Intervention Preschool.” I could not believe how Adam adapted to the learning, he took off and my son was happy, able to finally communicate with us and our family. By January he had an extremely high vocabulary and was talking our ears off. Adam was going to be fine and I knew there was NOTHING in this world he could not accomplish.
In August of 2010, Duarte and I were asked to switch Adam to another classroom as there were children with other handicaps coming in to the school. I was told the school wanted Adam to have the opportunity of one on one with his new teacher as she was specialized in dealing with Autism and had studied in North Carolina, at Chapel Hill. North Carolina is the leading State in Autistic research. Although I was not happy with this change, and verbalized it and AGAINST my gut instinct, I allowed the switch BUT on the understanding that if I was not satisfied, Adam would be moved back to his old classroom.
Adam started school, finally, he had been begging to go back to school all summer long! LOL! Soon after he began school we noticed we had to wake him up, and he would fight us to get dressed. He would start crying in the morning’s, and would say “Goodbye Kids, Goodbye School, Goodbye (teachers name)”. Strange we thought but put it down to being a new teacher, new class . . . and thought he will adjust.
We were called for a parent teacher conference very soon after the beginning of school. If only I knew that this was the day my biggest fear would materialize. During the meeting with his teacher, we were interrupted by the Principal and Vice Principal. They came into the classroom and escorted the teacher out of the room. The principal sat down and said, “Mr. and Mrs. . . . . . . . an incidence has occurred between (teacher’s name) and Adam.” I asked if Adam was in trouble? She said, “No . . . he hasn’t done anything wrong.” My husband asked, “What happened . . . whats going on? . . . “Your son was inappropriately touched. Children services have been called and a police report was filed this morning.” My husband and I didn’t know what to think . . . our hearts sank, our biggest fear of Adam being hurt by someone was here right in our face. ” WHAT?!?!” I said. The principal continued on stating, “It wasn’t anything sexual but that the teacher had disciplined Adam inappropriately and the school takes these things seriously.” All I could think of was my poor baby, this is why he kept saying “Goodbye” to everything he once loved. He was trying to communicate to us something bad was happening to him. Hind sight is awful, if only I had known, if only I had understood, my poor little Adam.
That weekend we had organized a family outing. We met up with my parents at the street fair in Beavercreek. Adam and my mom “Nini” have a special bond. They seem to get each other. When we arrived Adam noticed the fun castles and other little kids stuff. He wanted to go there and I told him we would go after we walked around. He had a melt down, my mom took him into her arms and walked him to the children’s area. Standing in line waiting for his turn Adam had another melt down, a severe one. My mom could not reach him, could not touch him, he sat on the ground as it was where he felt the safest. After a while he finally allowed my mom to hold him, to comfort him. My mom was devastated, this had never happened to her, to them.
I have been fighting this battle since August 2010. Although being told by his teacher she had found a way to discipline Adam, to stop him from throwing the mulch in the air, saying out loud “Fly, fly” . . . hanging him upside down by his feet would stop him. (She sat there and openly admitted to us she had held my son upside down by his feet . . . we didn’t know what to do we were in shock). Thank goodness the principal came in the room after that. In reports we have learned at the time of discipline, Adam was thrashing his body around, squealing and begging for his teacher to stop. She refused even though she must of known how her actions were hurting and scaring him. We noticed scratch marks on his back, neck and underarms. In another report we learnt she had forced his jaw open while forcing him to the ground. Adam had helped himself to another child’s snack, the teacher was furious and took action. We learnt how she would squeeze his little face and leave red marks to make him look at her. We noticed changing his diaper had become a nightmare, Adam would freeze and beg us not to hurt him, not to touch him. The yelling, the verbal abuse, the physical abuse . . . all these actions were my greatest fear….my son would be hurt by someone and I wouldn’t be able to help him AS A MOTHER SHOULD . . . BUT BY HIS TEACHER . . . never in a million years would I think this would be the person to hurt my child.
The school suspended the teacher pending the outcome of the investigation. She admitted she was guilty. Her punishment was the loss of a few weeks pay. I received the phone call from the school that she was to return. I was told the school had reasons, union ties etc. as to why they could not fire her. Instead she would be placed on supervision and restrictions. She was to have no contact with my son whatsoever. My family and I were appalled. The next morning, we walked Adam to his class, the school finally agreed to move him back into his original class, something of importance, to help Adam regain the feeling of security and that school was not a “goodbye” place to be. Although being told that she must remain in her classroom, we walked down the hallway to the class and she was standing outside her classroom and made eye contact with my son. I was infuriated, I couldn’t believe it. This woman had the nerve to stand there and look at my son, my mother, my husband and me. Adam’s new teacher ushered us in to the classroom. Adam was elated to be back in his old class. He greeted his teachers, who were also elated to have him back, with joy and love. It was a relief to see my son responding positively to his old classroom and teachers. The principal and administrator had tears in their eyes to see his response.
I did not give up, we did not give up. I continued to fight for my son, She should not be near him and eventually the case was turned over to the Ohio Department of Education the Office of Professional Conduct.
Yesterday, 8th March, 2011, a decision was reached (without my knowledge or input). They came back ruling disciplinary actions against her license. Her license was suspended for two years, HOWEVER, get this, she is still allowed to maintain her job and she will be monitored and restricted. I felt like I had been punched in the face, sick to my stomach, tears running down my face. I WAS FLOORED, ALONG WITH MY HUSBAND AND PARENTS. How is this Justice for Adam? Here she is able to maintain her lifestyle while my son now endures constant meltdowns and issues he never had before she put her hands on him. The teacher can go about living her life as normal, meanwhile my husband and I are left to pick up the shattered innocent pieces of my son that she left behind. HOW IS THIS JUSTICE?
ABUSE IS ABUSE….ASSAULT IS ASSAULT! She abused and assaulted our baby. Her punishment was a slap on the wrist….THIS IS NOT JUSTICE. My husband works full time and I am now a stay at home mom, student and homemaker. I will fight the good fight until my heart tells me I did everything possible for my son so that justice might prevail.
Adam attended speech therapy, occupational therapy prior to these events, recently it was decided he needed to also attend behavioral therapy.
I want to take this paragraph to thank the teacher’s assistant who came to Adam’s rescue. Without you and your actions I would hate to think what could of happened. Thank you from the bottom of my, my husband, my parents heart for caring. May God bless you. I also want to thank his current teachers for all they do for my son, for their care. I want to thank all the teachers who are on our side, trying to help us. May God bless you all too.
Please show your support, show Adam your support, please comment on Justice for Adam’s wall.
I have now taken the final step, a step that I hope will have someone hear me, hear us, I have contacted the local media. I am waiting for a response from them, I will keep you posted.
In fighting for Adam, I hope we will be able to help other children (autistic or not) and their families from ever enduring what we have. I am doing this as a way to protect future children from this teacher! I ask that God protect us and show me the steps I must take on my journey.
I know we may never get our “Adam” back, but we will work hard to try to, to help him know that he is safe.
Justice for Adam, our little free spirited child, may God continue to bless him. I know we are blessed to have him in our lives.
. . . and not even an “I’m sorry” from the teacher .