Alleged: Mishawaka Gym Teacher Duct Tapes Autistic Child’s Mouth

I came across this story this morning and my heart just breaks for the family. Imagine the horror of finding out that your child’s mouth was duct taped at school, multiple adults saw this and no one did a thing. Now put yourself into the child’s shoes – your teacher, an authority figure that you should trust, duct tapes your mouth! A gym teacher at a Mishawaka, Indiana school is being accused of duct taping an autistic child’s mouth for almost an hour.

As is often the case with any story like this, whether or not the individual involved is on the autism spectrum, the blame quickly gets placed on mom and dad. Bad parenting caused the kid to talk and so he deserved it. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Check out some of the comments from the WNDU online coverage of the story:

Posted by: Dave on Oct 7, 2010 at 05:39 AM

So you Failed as a Parent! Start over and this time Teach your kid to listen to the Teacher and shut his mouth and quit blamming the teacher because you failed to make your kid listen,I bet the parents blams all there problems on someone else too!!!

Okay I’m going to be snotty – Dave looks like you have some unresolved parental issues at play here. Might I suggest using spell check and understanding the proper use of capitalizations before ranting about bad parenting.

Posted by: Anon.. on Oct 6, 2010 at 11:39 PM

If a kid can’t behave in school, where everyone is there to learn, they should be kept home. Period. Parenting is the key issue here. There are too many “doctors” hanging a “diagnosis” of a disease or disorder on kids to excuse poor parenting and giving themselves an excuse to write out another prescription that they’ll get a monetary kick-back for.

Yup, that’s right, I’m a bad parent. I’d much rather be a lazy and bad parent seeking a diagnosis than an involved parent with a perfectly healthy, neurologically and emotionally, child. Posts like this one from anonymous are disheartening to me because it is obvious that all of the autism awareness efforts aren’t getting as far as they should. For anyone that thinks this is a parenting issue then I invite you into my home. I parent my kids every…single…day. I chose to make a sacrifice to homeschool my son to ensure that he gets the best education possible. If you think I’m a bad parent, you don’t know what a good parent is.

So the initial incident was atrocious but the generalizations in the comments are just disheartening. Do people really not understand that autism isn’t a symptom of bad parenting? I thought the refrigerator mother days were a thing of the past. What are your thoughts?

About Melissa

Melissa is the mother of two children on the autism spectrum and strives to provide information about all aspects of autism through her blog, The Autism Education Site. Follow Melissa on Twitter. Like me on Facebook.

© Melissa Hincha-Ownby and The Autism Education Site, 2008-2014.


  1. This is an autistic child? Holy crap people, any teacher that is that unaware of how to deal with with such a child should not be involved in teaching them. Sad such uneducated uninformed people are teaching our children.

  2. There is a war against difference. People just aren’t going to tolerate difference, so they will try to stop difference before it is born, and then they will attack it if it exists. And then one day when life takes a different turn for them or they simply grow older they will wonder why they are in a long term care facility and nobody cares about them. Well, I am intolerant of people who hate difference, and I know many other people are too. This is a battle over the right to be human – humanity includes difference.

  3. I just moved to mishawaka and I’m in the process of finding out if my daughter has autism. This truly breaks my heart! I worry everyday about how my daughter gets treated at school. I know she can be annoying at times but she is one of the sweetest little girls you’ll ever meet!! Let a teacher put duct tape on her mouth and I can promise you they’ll wish they’d saved it for me! Knowing that this is what I get to look forward too is just too much! As if I don’t have enough to deal with trying to figure out how to help her. As for it being bad parenting, I have 5 children and she’s the only one who has these difficulties in life. So someone please explain how that means I’m a bad parent!