The day Ayden came home from school with bruises, his mother started looking for a new school.
Ayden’s a bright 9-year-old with a blond crew cut, glasses and an eager smile showing new teeth coming in. He also has autism, ADHD and a seizure disorder. (We’re not using his last name to protect his privacy.) He loves karate, chapter books and very soft blankets: “I love the fuzziness, I just cocoon myself into my own burrito.”
“He’s so smart but lacks so much socially,” says his mother, Lynn.
She says Ayden was suspended repeatedly from his school in St. Lucie County, Fla., starting in first grade, for outbursts like throwing a chair. And during “meltdowns,” he was physically restrained by being held in a bear hug from behind or penned in with gym-style mats for up to 45 minutes.
“Not just sometimes, it was every single day!” Ayden says. “That kind of stress gets me all worked up and it makes my tics go crazy!”
One day, Lynn says, Ayden came home with marks all over his body from being restrained. “That was my final straw.” She started looking for another school.