Student with Autism Mistreated, Abused with Spray Bottle

Autism Abuse


A disturbing story has emerged from Deer Park, Texas, where a teacher has been accused of verbally mocking, taunting and in some cases, abusing children with autism and other special needs. Allegations surfaced back in December at a Deer Park ISD campus, claiming the teacher verbally and physically mistreated her students. Whistleblowers eventually came to the parents with the allegations, claiming that initial attempts to notify school officials fell on deaf ears. Now, the parents of the students want answers.

Kevin Graham, father of one of the children with autism, has called the actions by his son’s teacher "child abuse." He and other parents are pressing for the teacher to be fired, along with a supervisor who failed to take action when the alleged abuse was first reported. Both teachers were moved to other schools after claims were made public and are currently still teaching special education students.

Outraged parents and advocates are accusing Fairmont Junior High School of putting the institution before its students and sweeping the allegations under the rug.

This story is disturbing on many levels and is part of a nationwide trend involving children with autism and other special needs being mistreated by their teachers. Oftentimes, the onus is placed on parents and students to prove their claims and it usually takes a video of the allegations going public before swift action is taken.

Case in point, in November of last year, a shocking video surfaced (posted below) that shows 15-year-old student Julio Artuz being verbally abused and threatened by his teacher, who told Artuz he would kick his a** "from here to kingdom-come." The teacher was eventually fired, but not after public pressure ensued once the video went viral. No one had believed Artuz (including his parents) about the ongoing verbal abuse until he secretly recorded one of the incidents.

Although it has been extensively discussed, there has to be a greater push to install cameras inside of classrooms across the country where special needs students are educated.  Until that happens, we will continue to read about these kinds of stories and students with special needs will continue to suffer at the hands of teachers who have no business being around these types of children.

As for the spray bottle teacher and her supervisor, a board meeting will be held in three weeks among Deer Park officials, who will have the authority to overturn the administration’s decision not to fire the teachers. 

Let’s hope they do the right thing and protect other special needs students from abuse in the future.


7 Responses to Student with Autism Mistreated, Abused with Spray Bottle

  1. Fern says:

    This is why we need teachers’ unions that never allow firing of teachers with two or three years in the system.

  2. Rebecca says:

    I totally agree with the cameras-there is no other way to completely ensure students safety…I have worked as an aba tutor under cameras before, always understood why parents would insist on that, never took it personally. Uh, @Fern: seriously? Any teacher behaving like that ought to be fired whether they worked 2 years or 20, period.

  3. Louise says:

    I am appalled at the previous remark! As a parent of a Special Needs child that this same thing happened to, I can tell you that the Principal outright denied the possibility until I hired a lawyer for Special Needs. Abuse can and does happen! I found my child disassociated on the floor in his classroom as his teacher and aid psychologically abused him and demanded that he get into “time-out” for his punishment! And these were so-called experienced teachers.

  4. After reading this story…yet another article about abuse in schools, every parent and advocate needs to pick up their phone and call their senator and ask them to support Senate Bill 2020, the Keeping All Children Safe Act. The fact is that seclusion, restraints and aversives are not evidenced based methods for modifying behavior. They are often used as punishment or to force a child into compliance, as opposed to keeping a child safe. There is research to show that seclusion, restraint and aversives are ineffective and traumatic to the child, the children watching the violence and the teachers involved.

    Our nation’s mental health organization SAMHSA recognized the detrimental effects of S/R/A over ten years ago, yet education seems stuck in a time warp…insisting they “need” them when in reality they do not. There are plenty of schools who teach children with severe behaviors who are not restraining, secluding or employing adversives. There are programs and research available via SAMHSA to help schools reduce seclusion and restraint.

    It is time education as a whole got educated about autism and behavior and learned how to teach our children using effective and evidenced based methods. I am quite sure a “spraying a child with a water bottle” or a “shoving a child in a duffel bag” is not evidenced based. Yet week after week stories of abuse in schools come out in the media and inevitably the abuser is allowed to continue to teach. Worse yet, school boards go along with this barbaric treatment of our children as if is somehow acceptable to do this to children with autism…as if they are less than human.

    It is atrocious that we are allowing this to continue. Why aren’t the big autism organizations coming out against this behavior? When is America going to wake up and say enough. Senate Bill 2020 may not stop the abuse entirely, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.

  5. Kirti says:

    is that a knot I see on his forehead>? OUCHIE! Well….when Noah was in nardekgirten for a few months the school tried the same thing. It got to the point where they just acted like they did not want to “deal” with Noah anymore. He at that time was still trying to run off the school grounds or push/bite because he was still not that verbal and could not easily express himself. He would body slam into walls and such. They had us sign a letter to give them PERMISSION to RESTRAIN him (which we were not comfortable with) for his supposed own safety…not the others’ safety. This meant they would grab him and sit on the floor and put him between their legs and basically about squeeze him to death to hold him down. This needless to say did not go over well and lasted maybe a short week. Noah finally was only going to school for his therapies, OT, ST, and some supposed behavior/social skills classes. Then it got to where they did not even want him coming for that so we tried another school that specialized in kids with issues. Most of the kids there had a form of autism. There were only 5-7 kids in the class…it was a self-contained classroom. Noah unfortunately did not even make it 1 week there. The teachers had a huge attitude and had isolated him from the other students by day #2! It was another nightmare and I swore I would not put him through all that again so we yanked him and homeschooled him the rest of that year and the rest is history. Since homeschooling Noah he has thrived. He became very verbal very quickly….soaks up stuff like a sponge. The added stressors a public classroom setting are eliminated. I think KC will do very well at home!

  6. stevo says:

    This is a perfect example of the media tarnishing peoples lives by picking sides, the teachers aid who made these alligations lied because she did not like this teacher. It’s disgusting how they can spin a story of “aligations” without knowing the actual facts. This teacher is still teaching at Deer Park, why? Because she is good at what she does and she is not abusive, the real animal here is the aid who fed these parents lies. It’s been proven that she has made similar aligations at a prior school.

  7. Holly says:

    This is AWARENESS that truly needs to be shared, my daughter is Autistic and was raped and given a STD and non verbal. Thanks for sharing this information. Please support our cause in sharing your VOICE to protect our Adult Children with Autism who can not speak for themselves and depend on others to protect them by any means!! Let your voice be the weapon!

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Did You Know?

  • * In 1970, Autism affected 1 out of 10,000 children
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  • * Autism affects 1 in 54 boys
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