Parents Consider Legal Action After Autistic Girl, 8, Arrested at School

In reality, Book said, they may have an animalistic "fight or flight" mentality when it comes to confrontation. Many have "tactile defensiveness," meaning they are hyper-sensitive to any type of unwanted physical contact.

Filipek said similar incidents with autistic children are not uncommon, noting that one of her patients was recently ejected from his synagogue for attacking other children.

But charging Evelyn with battery, she said, implied that she intended to hurt her teachers when Evelyn's violent response to being restrained was a "gut-level" reaction.

"It really concerns me, to be perfectly blunt, that the school does not understand autism any better than that," Filipek said.

Cvitanich said Kootenai Elementary School includes a mix of mainstream and special education classes for children with disabilities. Children with severe disabilities, he said, are taught in a specialized program that has a smaller student-teacher ratio.

"They're mainstreamed as much as possible," he said.

Towry said her daughter didn't even meet the minimum age requirement of 10 to be booked at the county juvenile detention center.

Bonner County Police Lt. Ror Lakewold said the police report indicated the child -- who he declined to name because of her age -- "hit, kicked and spit on teachers."

Lakewold said there was also a complaint that the child grabbed a teacher in a "sexually sensitive place," not in a sexual way, but to cause pain.

Towry said that complaint stemmed from Evelyn pinching her teacher's breast, but she believes Evelyn wasn't aiming for any spot in particular. She was just fighting to be let loose.

"Teachers and the principal wished to pursue charges because they felt there were ongoing problems and this was the only way to resolve it," Lakewold said.

But Towry said her daughter thinks she got into so much trouble simply because she didn't want to take off her cow costume.

When asked what she likes best about school, Evelyn responded quickly and emphatically.

"Nothing," she said. "I don't like school."

And Towry said Evelyn won't be going back to Kootenai Elementary School, where she has been suspended for between two and 10 days.

"I fear for her safety and mental well-being," she said.

They haven't decided yet if Evelyn's 6-year-old sister, who does not have a developmental disability, will remain there or be transferred along with Evelyn.

Nothing formal has been filed yet, but she and her husband are considering legal action, Towry said.

"I would like them to learn a lesson that they should not treat children with disabilities in this manner," she said.

There's a lot of children with autism in the world now, she pointed out, and school officials need to learn how to properly discipline them.

Raising a Child With Asperger's

Towry said there was no indication there was anything wrong with Evelyn, the third of her four children, when she was a baby.

"All she really wanted from me as a baby was to nurse," Towry said, adding that Evelyn spoke early, walked early and hit all of her other developmental goals either on time or ahead of schedule.

Towry said she and her husband started getting calls about Evelyn's behavior when she was in kindergarten, before they moved to Ponderay. School officials told them the little girl would act out by making animal noises or stomping her feet.

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