GARDNER, Kan. - A Gardner mother stepped forward with her son's story of abuse after two other local children with autism had the courage to share theirs.
Jenna Russell was shocked when her son, Will, came home and wanted to tell her why he had rug burn. He said it happened at the hands of his paraprofessional.
"My trust was broken," Russell said.
The paraprofessional had worked with Will for three years, Russell said. While the physical injury was minor, the hurt goes deeper.
"The emotional one, the mental side of this is huge for him," Russell said. "This is someone he is very attached to. He has no concept that what happened is wrong."
Will is a highly-functioning child with autism and seeks deep pressure and tight spaces to relieve stress. The stress that day was from a writing assignment.
"The language arts teacher told me it had to be typed and I felt like I had to start it all over," Will explained. "And that just caused me to overload."
Crawling under his desk is something Will and his parents have developed together to help him calm down, calling it a "reset." But Will said that day, he didn't get time to do that, claiming the paraprofessional pulled him out and across the carpet, giving him rug burn.
"They're not giving the staff the tools to properly handle these children," Russell said.
Officials from the Gardner-Edgerton school district did not comment on the incident but did release this statement:
All district paraprofessionals are required to participate in initial and continuous training throughout the year to meet the needs of our students.
Russell said the school will only tell her they are watching the paraprofessional carefully and are reviewing the situation.
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