Drop Charges Against Autistic Child

Target: Pam Bondi, Attorney General of Florida

Goal: Drop felony charges against 10-year-old child with special needs.

A 10-year-old boy has been arrested and charged with a felony, despite the fact that he has special needs. A warrant was out for John Haygood’s arrest after he scratched and kicked an educational assistant at his school. However, Haygood has autism. Instead of learning how to deal with his special needs, school officials chose to punish him.

Haygood’s mother says that her son felt unsafe with the educational assistant. While violence can never be condoned, it is important that special needs like autism be recognized by adults who work closely with children. Instead of arresting children and forcing them to spend time in juvenile correctional facilities, school officials and others need to educate themselves on autism and the way children with the condition cope.

There is so much stigma surrounding mental disabilities already. To arrest children with autism instead of working with them and understanding them will only exacerbate stereotypes. Haygood should understand that his actions were wrong, but charging him with a felony that will follow him for the rest of his life is not the answer. If school officials had known how to better handle disabilities like autism, this entire situation could have been avoided. Sign the petition and demand that charges  be dropped.


Dear Attorney General Bondi,

John Haygood, a 10-year-old child, was recently arrested and charged with a felony after scratching and kicking his aid. However, Haygood has autism. Instead of handling his condition in a safe way, this ordeal has only traumatized him more. There is so much stigma surrounding those with disabilities. To treat those who suffer from something like autism as criminals will never help our society better understand, recognize, and respect those with disabilities.

I ask that you drop the felony charges against Haygood. He should not be punished for the rest of his life based on this action, especially because it was not something he could help. Had the aid and other school officials known how to recognize and handle his autism, perhaps this entire situation could have been avoided.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Labpluto123

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  1. Kathryn Irby says:

    To punish an autistic child is one of the most Ignorant things I’ve ever heard of!!! Blatantly Subhuman!!!

  2. This is just so outrageous and absurd. Have the school authorities and law enforcement absolutely NO understanding whatsoever of autism?!

  3. Pam Bondi is a trump surrogate, bought and paid for. What else do you expect from the trump republican administration. Utterly asinine assessment in this situation. DeVos likely lead the way on this one. Shameful display of ignorance by individuals who don’t belong in education.

  4. Gillian Miller says:

    I suspect that Haygood was grabbed and held by the assistant and lashed out. Autistic children do not like to be touched and the assistant would have committed an assault.

    Certainly, there appears to be a complete and utter lack of training and comprehension.

  5. Absolutely Angry says:

    WTF whose stupid ass is trying to ruin this kids life? Do you not for a second think this kid isn’t going to have challenges his whole life ahead of him by already having a learning disability? Whoever this tool is needs to be removed from our education system because they ARE NOT FIT FOR THE JOB! Grow some balls you spineless weakling whose pressing charges against a child you should be disgusted and ashamed of yourself to show your bitch ass in public!

  6. What this poorly written article fails to even MENTION is how the hell can you charge a 10 year old with a felony for this?!?!? A CHILD?!??!? Autistic or not is not the point. This is an evil thing, charging children with crimes for being kids. Jesus Christ what is this world coming to?

  7. Art Shervs says:

    Here is a little more info about the incident…this petition leaves out a lot of details…the child complained the assistant hurt him…why didn’t anyone investigate the claim, true or not, it should be looked into

  8. Kicking and scratching his ed. assistant, is wrong, and I sure, as as a former teacher of Special Ed. this kid, as all kids, know this is wrong, adn won’t be tolerated…… They are to face the consequences just like anybody else. They cannot be mainstreamed into this world, getting away with behavior, which injures others. Tough to accept, but that is the truth!!! IO free passes, for assaults………I know, some of you will be shocked, but I spoke up, so think about it!!! I have worked with many autistic children, andthey re capeable of understanding this concept….Right, from wrong!!!

    • I am a paraprofessional who has been assaulted by students(none of whom were arrested), and have witnessed these kinds of situations. It seems schools can’t strike a balance with discipline, being either too lax or too harsh. If the information from this story is accurate, I completely agree that he should not have been arrested. How can you have an outstanding warrant on a 10 year old, and not notify his parents?
      But one thing that many people and the parents don’t seem to understand is that, once these kids are adults, if they don’t learn how to respond appropriately, the police are not going to care if they are autistic. I have also worked with adults who are autistic and they get treated just like anyone else by the police if they get upset and commit a violent act.

  9. “Special needs” “autism” … It’s the new fad illness for the under-16 crowd. The new thing doctors can use to pry more money out of your insurance provider and YOUR pocket, now that ADD and ADHA are passé. It’s the new excuse for bad behaviour and escaping the blame. If there were really as many “new cases diagnosed every day!” as they claim, there wouldn’t be any normal, capable people left in the world. Teach the brat a lesson. I won’t be signing this petition and sure won’t be promoting it for anyone else to.

    • It’s certainly possible that some children are being misdiagnosed as autistic when they are in fact normal.
      But if you are suggesting that autism itself is a “condition” that was invented for financial gain, you are wrong, and you seriously need to educate yourself about autism.

  10. Margaret Melnick says:

    I also can’t sign this petition. If the child’s mother in fact really believed the child felt unsafe with his aide why did she not take steps to get a different one? No one should have to suffer the attack of a child. I have to agree although some cases are in fact legit many cases are nothing but lack of discipline by the parents. If they need special handling then perhaps special classes should be set for them. I know I will get a lot of flack for this but think. If you had a younger child who touched this boy and was attacked and beaten for this how would you feel? Just because it was an adult does this make a difference? It could have been you scratched and bitten or whatever the child decides to do. Teachers and aides need to be protected also. You are blaming the aide but perhaps the child was just being required to do something it didn’t want to. I don’t think this petition tells the whole story.

    • You are not allowed to choose aides for your children in public school. You get what you get and many are uneducated and inexperienced, the mother did not have a choice.

  11. michelle says:

    Watch out for the kindergarten children– they bite, scratch, hit and kick. They will all be in jail at this rate. I think this person was hoping for disability or will fake PTSD. Sad.

  12. Should be suing the school for not having trained professionals dealing with special needs children.

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