A Teacher Tries To Abuse A Kid With Special Needs, A Judge Lets Her Off

Back in February, I wrote about a special-needs teacher who doused crayons with hot sauce to prevent a kid with autism from putting them into his mouth. I considered it a form of abuse back then, and I still think it is. So did the Osceola County, Florida school district where Lilian Gomez worked: After her hot sauce method of discipline came out, she was fired from her job.

On Friday, a judge issued an order recommending that the district give her back her job, saying her behavior was “inappropriate” but that there was no proof she’d tried to punish the student. The final decision about her job will be up to the school board.

Gomez placed jumbo-sized crayons in a cup, poured hot sauce over them, and placed them in a bag with the student’s name. Her defense: “The intention was never to punish the child,” she said. She testified that she never put the crayons in the child’s mouth, and just wanted him to smell them.

I have zero objectivity here, as the parent of a child with special needs. But I do think that this is abusive. Even smelling a crayon with hot sauce can be very uncomfortable. If this child had sensory issues, as kids with autism often do, it could have been downright painful for him.

Can you imagine a teacher in a “typical” classroom ever trying this? It most likely would never happen, especially because a neurotypical kid would immediately rat out the teacher. Kids with autism and other special needs are more defenseless. Some don’t have the wherewithal to know that hot-sauce on crayons is a bad thing; some also lack the ability to speak.

I honestly don’t care what this teacher’s intentions were;  I’m concerned about her idea of discipline. Yes, it can be very challenging to guide and protect children with special needs. But I say that deterring them with anything that makes them physically uncomfortable, or that could cause them pain, is abusive.

I do not think she should get her job back.

Your thoughts?

From my other blog: 

You know better than to be racist–so why are you disablist?

Raising kids with special needs: The American cheese milestone

Kids with special needs: An awesome slideshow

Image: Screen grab/wftv video

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  1. by deb

    On August 20, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Definitely does not deserve her job back. And, the judge needs some training about children. What a fool!

    One thing made me laugh, though. Putting hot sauce on the crayons would only encourage my boys to suck on them and eat them. As their mom, encouraging them to eat crayons would tick me off.

  2. by Chrisa

    On August 20, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    She seems a bit overweight. Maybe we should put laxatives in her lunch and leave it in the staff room fridge with her name on it. Not for her to eat, just to smell.

    Idiot. And what’s the name of the judge, because he should lose his next election.

  3. by Nicole

    On August 20, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Nope. I would never allow my son to even be at the school if she was back there. Even if she wasn’t his teacher. I wouldn’t want him in a mile radius of someone who would do that.

  4. by GirlWithTheCane

    On August 20, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    She needs to be fired.

    Stuff like this makes me despair…

  5. by Nisha

    On August 20, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    Something is up with that judge how could he make such a recommendation? :(

  6. by Kathy K.

    On August 20, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    Shame on that judge who obviously has no compassion on children and especially none for people who have disabilities and their families. How can he face the parents of this child and honestly say that he believes that she was “not trying to discipline” him with the hot sauce soaked crayons! And that she was “just going to have him smell them”. I hope that the board will stand on their previous decision, this woman has no business being around children period! Much less children who have disabilities. Shame on you Lilian Gomez, you are an insult to good teachers everywhere.

  7. by Hannah Jacobs

    On August 20, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    I can’t believe we even have to discuss this. She should feel remorse and humiliation and shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near children ever again. What if a mother did this to her child? Sickening behavior that sends a message to other teachers that they can get away with abuse.

  8. by Cathy

    On September 1, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    If you can’t work with kids with and with out a disability don’t become a teacher. I have two kids one with autisum and one with no disability if anything like that happen I would be upset. It not the teacher place to do something like that at all.
    It not easy to have or teach a kid with disabillity but in no way should a teacher do that.

    This teacher should lose her job and not be allowed to teach every again for the students safty. If she did something like that what is stopping her from doing something more harmful?

    This truly upsets me, having a son with disability is hard and people looking giving them mean looks when they act up parents and teachers should always be the safe people for them. Having a teacher do this make you wonder if your kid is really safe at school.