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San Antonio mother calling for change after 7-year-old son with autism is handcuffed

The mother says the incident happened after her son had an outburst at school.

SAN ANTONIO — A mother is outraged after her 7-year-old son was handcuffed by San Antonio ISD police at his elementary school, in an incident caught on video. 

The child's mother, Maria Herrera Arias, said that her son, who has autism, had a breakdown in class on Monday.  Arias said as her son got more agitated, the teacher called for the SAISD crisis officers to respond. She said the school tried calling the father, but miscalled.

"They were finally able to get a hold of dad. Dad immediately headed over there," Arias said. "Once dad was there the police were already there. So he was trying to tell them, 'Release him to me, I'll take him home.' They said, 'No, he was going to emergency detention.'"

The child's father started recording. His video shows his son in handcuffs, and he can be heard crying as he's taken to an SAISD Police vehicle. 

Arias said the district police took her child to a behavioral hospital where he was released to his father. 

"It was handled totally wrong and I just want to make sure it doesn't happen to anyone else again," Arias said. 

She said Hirsch Elementary School has known about her child's developmental disorder. She said she has also tried to enroll her son into schools for autism, but she can't afford it. 

"My hope is that they treat children with disabilities with that least compassion and understanding to the situation that they're in," Arias said. "For me, the handcuffs are a big no. You should never handcuff a kid. Even as an adult, when you get handcuffed, you get scared. There's other resources out there."

A spokesperson with SAISD released the following response to KENS5: 

"While I can not provide information on a specific child, due to privacy laws, I can share that there are times when children are in crisis and need to be transported to receive medical attention. Handcuffing may be part of the process, if it's determined that it is necessary to keep the child safe. This is not a disciplinary measure; it is a process to ensure students in crisis receive medical care."

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