A FIVE-YEAR-OLD with autism has been reported by his school for “sexual activities” after hugging one of his classmates.
The boy, named only as Nathan, is a pupil at East Ridge Elementary School in the city of Chattanooga, Tennessee.
His family say the school filed a report with the state after he hugged one of his classmates and kissed another on the cheek.
His guardian, Summery Putnam, said she received a call from the school near the start of September that made her “sick to her stomach”.
“First of all, I didn’t understand… He’s a five-year-old, he’s a child,” she told local station ABC7.
“The teacher called me. She said: ‘You need to have a talk with Nathan about boundaries.’”
Ms Putnam said the teacher also accused her son of “sexual activities”.
“If you don’t understand how autism works, you’d think he’s acting out or being defiant, but that’s not the situation,” Putnam said.
“I talked to him. I said: ‘You can’t hug children.’
“He said: ‘Why?’
“I said: ‘Because, Nathan, it’s not allowed.’”
“To bring something like this against a child, a special needs child, that really doesn’t understand what he’s done wrong…”
She said the school claimed to have had to speak with Nathan on several previous occasions.
SCHOOL ‘REQUIRED TO RAISE CONCERNS’
Tim Hensley, a spokesperson for the Hamilton County Department of Education, said in a statement: “School personnel are required to [raise] concerns regarding children to the Department of Child Services (DCS).
“It’s up to DCS to determine if those reports are acted on by DCS and what form those actions may take.”
Ms Putnam confirmed that Nathan had now been moved to a different class with a different teacher, and that he is receiving special educational services.
Taking to Facebook, Nathan’s grandmother, Debi Deal Amick, wrote: “What do you do when a 5 year child is being labelled a sexual predator and accused of sexual harassment by the school system?
“It was disclosed that it will go in his record for the rest of his life that he is a sex offender.
“This child is [autistic], he comprehends and functions very different than your typical 5 year.
“What do you do?
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“Who do you turn to for help when the school will not even listen to the child’s doctor when he explains the child’s difficulties in his comprehension of simple things such as boundaries.
“If anyone can offer advice or help please do.”
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