Kindergartener with autism punished for hugging at school, family says


(CNN Newsource) – A family in Tennessee says their 5-year-old son with autism was punished for hugging.

School officials at East Ridge Elementary say he was over stepping boundaries, accusing the boy of sexual activities after he hugged a child and kissed another on the cheek.

Summery Putnam said she got a call from her son’s teacher about three weeks ago.

“I was sick to my stomach because first of all don’t you understand he’s a 5-year-old? He’s a child?” said Putnam.

Putnam says it’s difficult for her son to understand social cues because he has autism.

“If you don’t understand how autism works you’ll think he’s acting out or being defiant. But that’s not the situation.”

Nathan’s grandmother, Debi Amick, took to Facebook asking: “What do you do when a 5-year-old child is being labeled a sexual predator and accused of sexual harassment by the school system?

“He shouldn’t be treated like this,” said Amick. “The kid doesn’t even understand what sex is.”

Hamilton County Schools did confirm the teacher submitted a report to the Department of Child Services.

According to the schools policy, spokesperson Tim Hensley says, “School personnel are required to report concerns regarding children to DCS. It’s up to DCS to determine if those reports are acted on by DCS and what form those actions may take.”

The family thinks the school is in the wrong.

“To bring something like this against a child, a special needs child, really he doesn’t understand what he’s done wrong,” said Putnam.

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