A special education teacher has filed battery charges against an eight-year-old autistic boy in Rio Rancho after the boy punched her in the face.
DJ McKay has battery charges against him after reportedly striking a Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School Special Education teacher over an iPad.
The incident was news to McKay’s mother, Maria McKay, who was unaware that any charges were filed until she received a seemingly random call from a juvenile detention officer.
“Very shocking,” McKay said of the call. “Definitely was not prepared for a missed phone call from juvenile probation that my 8-year-old autistic child had failed to appear for a scheduled meeting. I called back and assured him there was a mistake.”
DJ reportedly bopped the special-ed teacher on the nose after she took an iPad from him, leaving a bruise.
McKay said the iPad is a “comfort item” to her autistic son and that suddenly taking it away likely triggered him into a fight-or-flight response.
“If you’re screaming at him, if you’re yelling at him, he is extremely overwhelmed. He may hit he may kick he may run. That is just how he communicates,” said McKay.
According to KRQE, the teacher’s report states that this is a first for DJ and that, despite being a Special Education teacher, “didn’t feel she should have to expect to get battered by her students and be okay with it.”
While McKay said she isn’t defending her son’s actions (and noted that hitting is never okay), she does feel the teacher, given her line of work, should know how to better handle and de-escalate issues with special needs children.
“There’s a wide range on the autism spectrum and being able to identify from one end to the next, that’s where I feel like the public school system has really failed DJ,” said McKay.
With DJ suspended, he now has to appear at juvenile court this week and is “absolutely terrified.”
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