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Cobb County, GA: 12-y-o autistic boy charged with felony for making scripted threat

COBB COUNTY, Georgia (WGCL) -- A Cobb County 12-year-old student faces felony charges after threatening to burn people and property at his school. But, he has Autism and his family argues, the proper protocols for students with disabilities were not followed prior to charges being filed. Jadon Ringland's family told CBS46, he was only repeating what he saw and heard in a video game, repeating phrases is a diagnosed symptom of his disorder, also known as "scripting." "We don't want him to think he's a bad child," Tovah Ringland said. The mom explained how her son is completely unaware of his felony case…. Tovah Ringland believes there is no doubt her son was "scripting" moments from this video game, back on January 29th while in school. "He said at school, he was going to get a fire bottle, a bottle with gasoline and fire, and burn the teachers and the school."… An incident report obtained by CBS46 confirms the charges. CBS46 found, a Behavorial Intervention Plan (BIP) for Jadon, or special procedures for special education classrooms which outline guidance for interactions. In Jadon's plan, it outlines when there is verbal disruption, "i.e. making threats to kill or harm" staff should "prompt Jadon use expected language" by asking is that a movie quote or real life?"… Now, a hearing is set for August 9th but the family feels this is no court matter. Ringland argues had the teacher followed the BIP, they would have confirmed Jadon was scripting. CBS46 reviewed email exchanges from the teacher and the mother from that day, there was no reference to the process being followed immediately after Jadon made the alleged threats. The emails do reference the teacher reviewing the BIP for earlier incidents in the classroom…. "Those scripting behaviors come out when they're under-stimulated or on the other side is when they're over stimulated," says the Marcus Autism Center's Psychologist and Behavorial Health Specialist Deva Carrion. Carrion helps train Georgia teachers and districts on ways to meet the needs of special education students. She is not connected to Jadon's case at all, but the expert says students like him can rely on scripting as a coping mechanism for being afraid, overwhelmed, or confused. Carrion says sometimes discipline disparities can be the result of an educator's understanding or possibly lack thereof…. The Cobb County School District did not interview with CBS46, but a spokesperson provided this statement…. In an additional follow-up request about cobb county teacher training and whether protocols were followed, a spokesperson added: "Special education teachers in Cobb are experts who understand the individual needs of our special education students. Training and behavior specialists are already part of the high level of service provided by our staff who follow the guidance of the Georgia Department of education when working with families to create a student's Individual Education Program (IEP)." CBS46 reached out to the Cobb County District Attorney, requesting information on whether the charges could be dropped.


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