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Autistic student handcuffed on school bus ‘for his own safety’

When police could not calm an 11-year-old Maryland student down, they handcuffed him behind his back.
School bus 2012 09 22Enlarge
A hydrogen-powered hybrid school bus in Washington, DC, on Nov. 28, 2006. (Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

A Maryland mother has called upon Howard County, Md., school officials and police to review their protocols for dealing with students who have autism after police handcuffed her 11-year-old autistic son on a school bus, the Baltimore Sun reported.

Judy Santelices’ son, who does not speak and has limited social skills, reportedly became aggressive en route to Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore on Wednesday and bit his bus driver, an aide and two students, according to the Baltimore Sun. The adults called 911, and when police could not calm the boy down, they handcuffed him behind his back.

None of the passengers required treatment for their injuries and no one was arrested, the Associated Press reported.

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Howard County police said the officers, who had gone through autism awareness training, did the right thing. "An officer tried to restrain the boy and ultimately placed him in handcuffs for his own safety and the safety of the others on the bus," Sherry Llewellyn, a police spokeswoman, told the Baltimore Sun. "The use of handcuffs is determined by the potential danger of the person to himself or someone else."

Howard County schools spokeswoman Rebecca Amani-Dove said the driver and aide also followed the correct procedures, the AP reported.

Santelices said she should have been called before 911, and there should be alternatives to handcuffing a student, the Baltimore Sun reported. School officials told the Sun that the driver and aide, who have been trained to work with special-education students, will receive additional training.

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