Family upset after boy with autism punished for hugging at school

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WISH) — A family says their child with autism has been reported to DCS after hugging at school.

WTVC reports that school officials with East Ridge Elementary say the boy was overstepping boundaries. Family members say he doesn’t know any better.

“I was sick to my stomach, because first of all, don’t you understand he’s a 5-year-old? He’s a child?” said Summery Putnam, the boy’s mother.

Putnam says the school called her three weeks ago about the incident.

“The teacher called me and she said you need to have a talk with Nathan about boundaries,” she said. “If you don’t understand how autism works, you’ll think he’s acting out or being defiant. But that’s not the situation.”

Putnam says Nathan also kissed another child on the cheek.

“What do you do when a 5 year child is being labeled a sexual predator and accused of sexual harassment by the school system?” asked Debi Amick, the boy’s grandmother, in a Facebook post.

The school has confirmed that a report was sent to DCS.

“School personnel are required to 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,” said spokesman Tim Hensley.

Information from CNN Newsource was used in this report.