5-year-old with autism punished for hugging classmate

(Summery Putnam)

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – A 5-year-old boy with autism was punished by elementary school officials after giving his classmate a hug.

Nathan, a kindergartner at East Ridge Elementary in Chattanooga (Tenn.), was accused of overstepping his boundaries by school leaders, according to WTVC.

Summery Putnam, Nathan's guardian, said the school filed a report with the state. The school's principal claims school staff had previously talked with the boy several times.

"I was sick to my stomach," Putnam said. "The teacher called me and she said, 'You need to have a talk with Nathan about boundaries.'"

Putnam says Nathan's teacher accused the boy of sexual activities.

"If you don't understand how autism works, you'll think he's acting out or being difficult," Putnam said. "But, that's not the situation." 

Nathan has since been moved to another classroom with a different teacher. The school district says any report filed by a teacher is confidential.

"He doesn't know what he's doing wrong," Putnam said.