More than 130,000 people have signed the petition calling for action against the Mercer County school officials Sandra Baker says put her nine-year-old autistic son, Christopher into a bag as punishment.
"I was aware that they were filling the bag full of balls and letting him roll over top of it for sensory and deep pressure reasons," Sandra Baker said, "That was not the case. They had his whole body down inside the bag."
In an interview via Skype, the author of the petition, Lydia Brown, who is autistic herself, says sensory integration therapy is a legitimate practice, but that's not what was happening in this case. "The bag was not being used by a clinician in a therapeutic setting for therapeutic purposes," Brown said, "and during such therapy, the person who is receiving the therapy is free to leave at any time or to stop the therapy at any time. In this instance what was intended to be used for therapy was used as a mechanism of restraint, of seclusion, of confinement, of abuse. It was used as a punishment. It was not used as therapy."
Mercer County Schools Interim Superintendent Dennis Davis said in a statement, "I want to assure you that we look into every complaint and take each one seriously. We will continue to go above and beyond to make sure we are providing the best education that we can provide for every student."
As an investigation into the incident continues, both Brown and Baker hope to draw more attention to the treatment of autistic students everywhere.
The Mercer County Board of Education will meet January 19th. Members of the Baker family say they will be there to demand the dismissal of the teacher responsible and an apology from the school board.
You can read the petition by following the link below: