Other People's Words

Transcript: Tricia Kenney interviews Carole Reynolds, whose 11-year-old autistic grandson Zakhquery Price is being charged with a felony

Posted in Uncategorized by Tera on January 7, 2010

This is a transcript of Tricia Kenney at Embrace Autism’s interview with Carole Reynolds, whose 11-year-old autistic grandson Zakhquery Price is facing felony charges as a result of a meltdown he had in school. His case goes to trial January 12.

Tricia Kenney: Hello, everyone; welcome to the show. We have a very important show today. This is pertaining to Zakhquery Price. He is an 11 year old facing felony charges resulting from a meltdown that he had in school. His grandmother, Carole Reynolds, is with us today. She’s going to be explaining to us exactly how this all happened, a little bit of Zakh’s history, and the kind of help that they need right now.

Carole Reyonolds: Hi, how ya doing? I appreciate you having us on and helping to support little Zakhquery.

Tricia Kenney: Really, I wiah I could do more. It’s just really something that’s touching a lot of people in the community; we hear too many of these stories, and we really just want it to stop. We wanna find a way to help families like yours. Can you give us a little bit of background? What exactly took place to bring this all about?

Carole Reyonolds: October 15 is when we had a temporary IEP meeting for him. In that meeting, two things were recommended for his behavior problems. One of them was that he could go to an area where a small bookcase was. If he sat in that corner, he couldn’t see anybody, so he felt comforted and was regrouping. Another thing was a tube tent, which is a very, very small tent that takes up hardly any room, but a child can fit in it. They agreed to that.

Also during that IEP, the teacher said: “He’s never there on Fridays. We always have to send him home.” Then I said: “What happens on Fridays?” She said: “Spelling.” I said: “Is spelling a trigger for him?” She said: “Spelling’s a trigger for him.” She was very well-aware of it.

Two weeks later, the bookcase is there, but they hadn’t put the tube tent up. He was doing his spelling. A child erased a word that Zakh wasn’t ready to have erased. He stood up, and when he blows, you can tell it’s gonna happen. He stood up, and they said yelled “No!” What he really does is he stands up and goes “Grr!” because that’s his frustration.

Apparently then the teacher, instead of encouraging him to go to his quiet spot, proceeded to just tell him: “Calm down, Zakh. Things’ll be all right. Keep on your spelling words. Just keep going.” At that time, she just needed to give him his space, and suggest he go to his quiet spot.

Somehow it escalated, I think because she continued to talk. She told me that she offered to let him sit by her. Well, when you’re gonna have a fit you don’t sit by people. She said he could stand up in the front of the room with her. That doesn’t sound quite like what an autistic child that’s about to throw a fit would want to do.

These suggestions were totally inadequate. I confronted her: “So, basically, you escalated the problem.” When I said that, she quit talking to me. They took 11 pictures; they do show the classroom pretty destroyed. He didn’t break anything, he just dumped it. The toys, he dumped; the chair, he turned over. They have those little foam toys that look like peanuts, and he had tossed them on the floor. There was no major damage; it was just peanuts.

They watched this fit for 25 minutes without calling us, which they’d agreed to do at the IEP meeting two weeks earlier. We’re only five minutes away. Then, when he was calmed down, he went into the corner himself and they cornered him. As he put it: “They got in my face.” In the pictures, you can see them actually bending down and hovering over him—the principal and the teacher.

I said to Zakh: “When did you kick the principal?” He said: “I kicked her when I wanted out of the corner, and they wouldn’t let me out.” He kicked her only one time. It wasn’t an “I’m gonna beat you up” kick; it was a “Get out of my way” kick. He pushed his teacher, who weighed maybe 100 pounds and, she said, in he own words: “I fell into the bookcase.” She didn’t say he pushed her into it.

The police were called. They arrested him, handcuffed him, and put him in juvenile hall with the regular inmates. We were called after the police were called, but we got there when the police did, and they wouldn’t release him to us. We had to get a friend that’s an attorney to talk to somebody he knew in the courts. They were able to get him out without us having to pay a fine. They had planned to keep him for at least four days in juvenile hall, because the judge only sees juvenile cases twice a week.

Tricia Kenney: Did they actually end up restraining him at the school?

Carole Reyonolds: Yes. They did restrain him. When he kicked them and pushed the teacher down, they then tried to restrain him. They claimed that they have injuries, but nobody missed a minute of work; nobody went to the doctor or the hospital. The injury to the principal was he kicked her in the leg. The injury to the teacher was, she said she felt some pain where he pushed her. Well, she fell into the bookcase. So they filed felony charges, and they’re not backing down. They want him out of the school district.

asically, what they’ve been trying to do…In the first two and a half to three months of school, he had 14 days suspensions. Then he had the police called on him three times.

Tricia Kenney: And this was all in absence of an IEP, correct?

Carole Reyonolds: They did this even after they did the temporary IEP, but they did not do a behavior plan or an FBA. After the 10 days, they did not do the manifestation hearing. We still haven’t had one, and it’s been a month and a half. They’re trying to schedule it now for the day before his felony hearing, in which they’re going to try and say he’s not autistic.

Tricia Kenney: You had requested an IEP meeting in the summer before school started?

Carole Reyonolds: Right, because he was coming from Habberton House—which is a residential treatment center for behavior problems—because they didn’t recognize his autism. If they called it autism, Medicaid wouldn’t pay for it. So they never called it autism, and did not treat him for autism. So he regressed on his test scores. I have his scores from 2006, 2007 and 2009. On his WISC-IV, he had a significant regression. So he’s not learned anything since 2006.

Tricia Kenney: Can you explain to people how he ended up in the Habberton House?

Carole Reyonolds: We’ve been trying since he was three years old to get him diagnosed as autistic. Around here, they don’t really believe in autism, so we couldn’t get him diagnosed. So he started school. In kindergarten he did okay. First grade they started suspending him, and recommended he go into a day treatment program for behavior problems. Since we thought that would help better than just a regular school, we put him in there and he learned how to be worse. So we took him out AMA, which made the district mad because they didn’t wanna deal with him.

At the end of ’06, he had a meltdown in the principal’s office because I was the reward. When he was good, he got to have Grandma Time—I would get to go to lunch with him, for instance. It was some kind of a reward. The principal had turned it around so I was his punishment, without telling me.

So for some reason, Zakh’s in his office, and the principal calls me to talk to me about Zakh’s problem, in front of Zakh sitting there in the office. And Zakh’s screaming: “I wanna talk to my grandmna! I wanna talk to my grandma!” But the principal wouldn’t let him. So he had a meltdown, and he destroyed that principal’s office really good.

The reason that he asked for his grandma is, since almost from when he was born, I noticed that he had the need for special attention. So out of my 22 grandchildren, I made a special effort to get close to him. So I’m his safety blanket. Whenever anything goes wrong, Grandma is there. So for them to use me as punishment—I was just floored.

When I’d found out that he’d destroyed the principal’s office—he’s done it twice, once in 2006 and once in 2009—the principal never told me that they filed a FINS on him. We didn’t know about that until I got the probation report from this time, and saw that that was on there from 2007. I just found that out. They filed a FINS on him on 15 March of ’07. On 16 March of ’07, his favorite sister’s birthday—she was three—they went to the school and took all six kids to DHS.

Two hours later, they call and say: “Come and get the kids.” It was a false report. It was suspicious bruising, and they’d determined it was not true. They said: “Come and get the kids, except for Zakhquery.” He was the one we were fighting to get the benefits for.

Zakhquery had had a mental breakdown; he was eight years old. When they took the kids to DHS, for some reason they separated him from his brothers and sisters at the DHS office. In essence, he felt all alone, and that’s why he did have a mental breakdown. They wouldn’t let him come home.

Even though we had proof that he was autistic by now, they took him to a mental hospital that was not certified to treat autism, so they refused to acknowledge it even though I gave them the report. They just said it was a behavior problem. At that time, they wanted to keep him and me apart, so we didn’t get to see him or talk to him on the phone for three months. So he’s totally alone.

Tricia Kenney: They can just take your child away without any verification, any signatures? They can just take the child away and put them in an institution.

Carole Reyonolds: Yeah.

Tricia Kenney: Unreal.

Carole Reyonolds: He was there for six months. During that six months, his baby sister, who was his favorite, passed away unexpectedly. They would not let him or the family be together. He got to come to the funeral, but he was dressed in dirty clothes. His mom happened to have a change there for him, because she had guessed what they would do. He got to go to the funeral and the burial, and then they took him back.

Visiting was very, very limited. They took him for six months to this [unknown] in Barlene, Arkansas. Their goal was to separate him, because he was too attached to me. Zakh also suffers from reactive attachment disorder (RAD.) They don’t attach to people. So when they do attach, you don’t want to break it.And they were determined to break it.er

After we finally got him out of Vista because the money ran out—Medicaid quit paying after six months—then they put him in their day treatment program, which was even worse than the hospital. I’ve got paperwork that the teachers would send home. He was acting out because he’d lost his sister and not been allowed to mourn for her. He was taken from his family, separated from his brothers and sisters, and they’re stepping stones. Right now, they’re 13, 12, 11, 9, so they’re close. So I would act out, too.

They finally gave up on him and released him, only to have him transferred to Millcreek in Fordyce. That was so far away, we couldn’t visit him but rarely. They kept him there for six months, then Medicaid quit paying and then they passed him off to Habburton House because he wasn’t making progress—”they” being DHS and the judge.

He was at Habburton House for five to six months. Medicaid called me—I was floored—and asked if he was making any progress. Was this doing him any good? I told her he was worse than when they took him, and that he was not making any progress at all and was autistic. The funding wa stopped, and all of a sudden they released him. That was in May of 2009.

In June of 2009, my daughter called the office and asked if they could start his IEP process going. It had been recommended he have a one-on-one aide at all times in school. They refused; they said: “We’ll do it when school starts.” They did start it when school started. It’s four and a half months later and they’re still doing it. If it weren’t for me knowing he could be temporarily placed, he would still be in a regular classroom and would be taken by now.

Tricia Kenney: He spent two and a half years institutionalized.

Carole Reyonolds: He doesn’t know how to behave normally.

Tricia Kenney: You have to think, as a child, how does that affect you, to be torn away from your family and put in these institutions? Not just one, where you might get used to it, but get put in four different institutions, and to be separated from your family and have the loss of your sibling? Did they have him on any medications during that time?

Carole Reyonolds: Oh, tons. When we got him, they had him so drugged up that he could barely hold his head up. Now he’s not on that kind of medicine anymore; he’s on some medicines, but he’s not on that kind of medicine, so that’s a good thing. He’s now back to his hyperactive self.

They did a lot of knockout drugs, where they give him a shot and knock him out for sometimes the whole day. It paralyzes you; you can’t move. They would put him into the Quiet Roomk. Legally, they could not put him in longer than an hour, but one time we were sitting out at Vista waiting to visit him, watching the clock go by. He had been in the seclusion room. We were told somebody was in there; we didn’t know it was Zakh.

They lock him in there, and if you’ve never seen one, it’s a bare cold floor—and I do mean cold. They make them take their shoes off. There’s no bed; there’s no chair; there’s nothing. They have locks on the outside of their room doors. They would lock him in his bedroom. That’s where he spent most of his time, because he didn’t want to bend to what they wanted him to bend to. He could not behave the way they wanted him to.

Tricia Kenney: This is just so heartbreaking.

Carole Reyonolds: If you go to my website and you see him, you see that he’s still got that innocence about him. He managed to get through this without it breaking him. This has been said repeatedly in his reports from every mental institution even, that he is severely depressed and grieving still the loss of his baby sister.

We explained all of this on the IEP meeting on the 15th of October, and said when they call the police, he’s terrified they’re going to take him away from his family again. We explained that to them. Not two weeks later, they had him arrested and put in juvenile hall.

Tricia Kenney: This is just so, so sick. It is just so unreal that people are still treating other human beings the way that Zakhquery’s been treated.

Carole Reyonolds: He’s not the only one. We know of two other cases personally that this same thing has happened to. The school uses intimidation, connections with the courts and connections with DHS to do this. This is a system they’ve got to get rid of the ones that will cost them money to have at school.

Tricia Kenney: What about supports in your community? Advocates to come in with you for IEPs? Anybody defending you from special ed or anything?

Carole Reyonolds: Not here. By going public like we did, we got a terrific advocate, David Young, that’s going to be coming down from Little Rock at his own expense, because finances are really strapped,

Tricia Kenney: And he’s gonna be there for the IEP?

Carole Reyonolds: He’s gonna be there for the IEP. We’re looking at the Disablity Rights Center being there for the IEP. We’re still up in the air on the felony; we don’t know if we have any representation but the public defender, who does not know very much at all about autism. She thinks it’s a mental illness, and that’s the route she wants to go.

But in Arkansas, if [defendants] are found mentally incompetent, they are put into the state hospital for a 30-day evaluation, and then determined whether they get out or not. They won’t treat him for autism, and so he won’t get out.That’s what we fear. I have nobody to represent us in felony court now. The public defender’s nobody.

Tricia Kenney: You have an official diagnosis for him, though, correct?

Carole Reyonolds: We have three or four official diagnoses of autism. They’re by private individuals, except for Habburton House, his last placement. When they finally had to get rid of him, they say on there that he has autism. It says PDD.

The school district refused to accept the exit recommendations from Habburton House: the one-on-one aide and physical therapy and stuff like that. They refused because it wasn’t on an IEP form. It was an exit discharge.

Tricia Kenney: I wanna give a little bit of information about Zakhquery’s family. There are three other children in his family that are autistic as well. If you can tell the listners about Zakh’s parents, and why it is that you’re speaking out instead of them?

Carole Reyonolds: Becky is his mother; she was in special ed from three years old until she graduated from high school. She has a not very high IQ, and when it comes to dealing with things under pressure, the school can intimidate her. She isn’t familiar with all the terminology and she has an expressive problem. If you were to ask her to tell you what she did at a meeting, she can’t do it. She’ll say: “I don’t know” or she’ll say one or two words.

We sent a letter to the school district, telling them that I was going to be her advocate and Zakh’s advocate, because she could not express herself in a way to provide the best defense for Zakhquery. She supports him 100 percent.

Tricia Kenney: Have they ever tried using her disabilities to show that she can’t care for the kids?

Carole Reyonolds: DHS is still involved in the case three years later. DHS has backed off with her. Their first intent was that they were going to have to take all the kids. In fact, when the baby died, they did take all the kids. They saw her die, and they took all of the kids immediately, and put them in a group home. They didn’t have a chance to mourn together, either.

Becky is very mellow. She’s a normal-looking person that has four boys with autism. Zakh’s case had become so complicated that she can’t handle it. She’s on the website. She hasn’t said anything, but she’s on Zakh’s website. She’s reading everything.

His real dad is one of those types of people that you have nightmares about marrying your daughter. After seven years of abuse of the children and her, he’s out of the picture. He’s in California; he’s not in Arkansas. She has remarried, so he has a stepdad. They got married when he was forty years old.

Tricia Kenney: Do they all get along now? Is it a much better environment now?

Carole Reyonolds: It’s chaotic. With Zakh being there, it’s really chaoitic, so I have him right now visiting me. The stepad does the best he can with his limited resources. He’s not got any mental problems or anything like that, but he was forty when they got married and he’d had no children.

Tricia Kenney: So it’s a big adjustment, moving into a big family.

Carole Reyonolds: And them having fits and stuff. He does the best that he can, but he doesn’t have the patience and the understanding of autism. Even though I’ve tried to educate him, he still focuses on the behavior, rather than what caused the behavior.

Tricia Kenney: That takes time and a willingness to learn, that’s for sure. It’s very hard for people to come into an autistic family. But if they wanna be there, they have to learn what it’s about. Now we’re at a point whewre you are needing legal representation for Zakh for these felony charges, and you only have just a few days left until this court case comes to light. So, we’re wondering: what is going on? There’s nobody in Arkansas that will do this without asking for a retainer fee? Except for the public defender that you’ve been assigned, who knows absolutely nothing about disability law or autism.

Carole Reyonolds: Not that we’ve found.

Tricia Kenney: So this is our mission; we’re trying to find a lawyer that will help represent Carole and Zakh in this felony case. You were in touch with somebody in New York, who said that they wanted to take this on a federal level, because they do not have a license in Arkansas to practice. But we’re still desperately in need for someone to be there on January 12.

Carole Reyonolds: Right. Otherwise, because of all the stuff I’ve done, they will cream him. I’ve been warned that four times now. I was warned it before I started this that the judge would take it out on him. Now it looks like I might not have any representation, and so it’s very scary.

Tricia Kenney: There’s the very real possibility that he will be taken away again.

Carole Reyonolds: Yes. And I don’t think he can handle that. I don’t think I can.

Tricia Kenney: What they’ll do is they’ll just drug him up again, and he will regress.

Carole Reyonolds: He will certainly not be a benefit to society.

Tricia Kenney: It may just be a life gone forever. We just can’t let that happen. I am asking everyone out there, tell this to everyone you know and have them tell everyone they know.

We have to just keep pressing on trying to find somebody that can help this family. There has to be somebody out there that can help this family. It is just absolutely insane that this child has to go through this, and has to live with this fear, and the fear that was put into this family as well.

Just dealing with that and coping with that is going to take years. It’s like post-traumatic stress disorder, the kind of stress that they’re in right now. It’s just unreal that this is all coming from a school system. It’s a children’s system in that area that is letting this all happen.

Carole Reyonolds: That started it. That’s what is so unreal, that they started this. And they’re not backing down, even though one teacher had a kick injury and the other teacher had…I never saw a bruise, but that’s what she’s claiming.

Tricia Kenney: It’s just unreal. They were hovering over him; they were getting ready to pounce on him. What was he supposed to do? I don’t understand where their logic is in thinking that they should file felony charges against this child.

Carole Reynolds: They got some Doctor Mackinroe—I believe he’s in Fayetteville—who says his testing isn’t valid because he couldn’t get Zakh to cooperate. Then he says that the mental hospital he was in obviously did no good. Then he says that there is no way Zakh will ever be able to be trained in school; he cannot participate in public school, and the doctor recommends that he go back to the same facility he just got out of. And that’s in plain language he says that. And yet, he’s not one to diagnose educational needs.

Tricia Kenney: I’m gonna put a link for the Fort Smith public school district in the chatroom. Call them; write them letters. Just let them know that this story is getting out, and that people are aware of what they are doing to children in their area.

[Transcriber’s Note: The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network also has an action alert with contact information for the school principal and the superintendent of the Fort Smith school district.

We have so many people talking about this on Facebook, on Twitter and all the networking sites. If we could all just bear down on this school district and the state, and let them know that this is completely unacceptable and that this is abuse. I mean, really, you should be suing the pants off of this whole school district and the DHS, and everybody else who has done wrong to Zakhquery. This is just a travesty.

Carole Reynolds: Yeah. The only thing I know is that I went to a Wrightslaw seminar in Oklahoma City in December, and the advocate group there said that this is going on there, too. It’s the new plan that’s been spread around through the school districts on how to get rid of these kids. In Oklahoma and Arkansas, they are doing this.

Tricia Kenney: Geez. They’re acting like these aren’t human beings; they’re acting like these aren’t valid people in our society. Who are they to say what my child’s potential is, and what your child’s potential is, and whether they’re valuable or not? It’s just horrible, horrible acts against human rights. It’s so upsetting. I’m sorry I’m getting a little emotional here. It’s really horrible, because this happens a lot. It happens too often, and it’s just heartbreaking.

I thought it would be nice, at least, if we could talk with Zakh for just a minute, if he wants to come on and say hi.

Zakhquery Price: Hello?

Tricia Kenney: Hi! How are you?

Zakhquery Price: Good.

Tricia Kenney: I’m sorry we interrupted your movie or game. We just all wanted to say hi to you. There’s a lot of people listening to the radio show right now, and they just want to know how you’re doing.

Zakhquery Price: Okay.

Tricia Kenney: You like staying at Grandma’s house?

Zakhquery Price: Yeah.

Tricia Kenney: So what are you playing?

Zakhquery Price: I’m just watching Spiderman.

Tricia Kenney: Which one? The first one?

Zakhquery Price: First one, yeah.

Tricia Kenney: That’s a good one. My kids like Spiderman, too.

Zakhquery Price: Yeah.

Tricia Kenney: So what are you gonna do today, Zakh?

Zakhquery Price: I don’t know; maybe eat out, I hope.

Tricia Kenney: That sounds really nice. Did you wanna say hi to everybody who’s listening?

Zakhquery Price: Hi!

Tricia Kenney: All right; we’ll let you get back to your movie. We just want you to know that we’re all doing everything we can to try and help you. Okay, honey?

Zakhquery Price: Okay. Thank you for helping me.

Tricia Kenney: It’s our pleasure, honey. We’re gonna keep trying, okay?

Zakhquery Price: Okay. Here she is.

Tricia Kenney: He is such a sweetheart.

Carole Reynolds: Oh, he is. And he’s so thoughtful. He thinks I’m old at 59, and he will assist me like you would an elderly person, by taking me by the hand and: “Watch out for that step, Grandma!” He’ll open the doors for me and stuff. I got a video of him playing with his two-year-old baby sister. She was born on the first anniversary of this three-year-old sister’s death.

Prior to that, they tried to have a baby and were unsuccessful. Here [Zakh’s stepfather] was forty, with no children, and thought he couldn’t have any. The Lord blessed them with another daughter, and she was born on the exact day of the death of the other one. I have that video, but I can’t get it to download on Youtube or on Facebook. It shows him playing with her.

Tricia Kenney: We have some technically gifted friends in our autism community, so I think we’ll have to have one of them assist you.

Carole Reynolds: Yeah. It’s a real sweet, cute video. It’s just a short one, but he’s on the couch and he’s tickling her and she’s laughing. This is the person they want to put away as not being a human being. One website in particular is saying that he should be locked up and put away, because even dogs can be trained and obviously, he can’t.

Tricia Kenney: It’s really sad. I saw some of those comments too, and it was really sad to think that people can feel that way and think that way about other people. I think it really goes back to the perception that’s put out there about autism, and how they’re essentially like vegetables and can’t think or function or be productive or love or show feelings or communicate.

It’s all just so false. We just spoke with Zakh; he’s obviously a very sweet kid. It’s just heartbreaking to think that they wanna hurt this child like they did before.

Carole Reynolds: He is worried about it. I do agree with that post-traumatic stress, because he will cling to me. When we were talking about his real dad and stuff, he left the room. That was bothering him. When he was 18 months old, his real dad would lock him in a separate bedroom. He locked his two brothers in one bedroom and Zakh in another bedroom. Zakh was so different that he didn’t want to put the thre boys together. But he locked them in there so [the father] could play video games. He wouldn’t feed them or change them.

And Becky, being simple-minded, believed her husband. She was at work and believed her husband that he didn’t know why Zakh would take his diaper off and spread it on the wall. Finally, she asked me: “Why do you think he does that?” I said: “Because he’s being neglected.” We’ve tried reporting him to DHS ourselves back then, and DHS didn’t do anything. Yet this time, when there’s not a reason, they came out with not just DHS but two police cars, too. It was unreal.

Tricia Kenney: We should stress here that all of these things that have occurred in Zakh’s life—all of these abuses that happened early on in his home and the ones in school and the mental hospitals and then the death of his sister and being taken away from his family—all of these things occurred, and he has never received any help to deal with any of these issues. He has never gotten any sort of therapy or care or counseling to help him cope.

Carole Reynolds: He had some court-ordered counseling that was a laugh. It was through the school district’s connections. But he now is being seen at a place here called DaySpring, which is really terrific, but the director knows nothing about autism. So he sees his fits, which is autism. as bipolar and behavior. Even though we’ve got the reports, he’s open to it, but he admits he knows nothing about it. But there are no therapists in our city or surrounding area that treat autism.

Tricia Kenney: It’s one thing to try and get him therapy for autism, but with any human being going through the traumatic experiences that he has, what would you do for any other person on the planet, had they experienced that? That’s what he needs. He needs to be reassured; he needs to be comforted; he needs to be shown that he is secure and safe with the people that he loves.

Carole Reynolds: Right. And he doesn’t feel safe at the school. We forgot to mention he’s homebound. Since that incident where he had a meltdown, we had his therapist write a medical reason for him to not be at that school, based on his fear of being taken again. So he is on homebound school, where the school comes out and provides a teacher. It’s for four hours a week. He’s at maybe second grade reading level with that in fifth grade, plus he writes like a kindergartener. There’s no way that in two hours twice a week they can address any of his needs. He’s not getting any therapy from the school.

Tricia Kenney: He is really, really being let down. Your whole family is just being so let down. But we are going to keep working on this; I’m still gonna keep doing what I do.

Carole Reynolds: If it wasn’t for all that Twitter and everything—’cause I don’t know how to Twitter—this story would get buried. If I don’t get representation on the 12th, it seriously might happen. [Crying] I don’t know that him or I could take it.

Tricia Kenney: I know. Keep praying. We’re gonna keep trying, Carole. We do have a question from the chatroom. Eric wants to know if any of the TV channels in the Fort Smith area have looked into this at all. I know you’ve said you’ve tried contacting the media in your area. What exactly happened there?

Carole Reynolds: The day it happened, I called Channel 40-29, who serves Fayetteville and Fort Smith. The gal said that she had a meeting to go to; she would get back with me. She never got back with me.

Then I had a connection with the local newspaper. A friend works there and got hold of an editor. They got it approved to investigate the story, and she basically said that she would have to get the school’s side of it too, and she wasn’t getting that. She couldn’t just print our side. Also, in an unofficial way she warned me about the judge taking it out on Zakh.

Tricia Kenney: Essentially saying that if this went into the local media, Zakh would pay the price for it in his court hearing.

Carole Reynolds: Yeah.

Tricia Kenney: [Sarcastically] That’s nice.

Carole Reynolds: Yeah. But that’s what I’ve heard four times so far. I contacted Glenn Beck a couple weeks ago; I haven’t heard anything. I contacted Fox News; I haven’t heard anything. I contacted the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette up in Little Rock; I haven’t heard anything.

Tricia Kenney: I’ve contacted Congressman Bowman. I thought I would get help because I’d been told one of the people that answer his phone has a child with autism. But I got no response.

Tricia Kenney: We need to mention the names of the people that you have sent letters to or made phone calls to, so that when this all does break open, their names’ll be out there and people will know exactly who is helping the people in their area and who is not, and who they should vote for next time, and who they should not vote for.

Carole Reynolds: I didn’t contact Lincolin or Pryor. I didn’t think about it because they’re not my local congressmen. Congressman Bowman is my local one, who has received many letters from me so I would have name recognition with him. So I was really disappointed that nothing happened. Everybody anybody suggests on my website, I contacted. Plus, I went down a list. It said State Department of Arkansas; I contacted them.

Tricia Kenney: You have to contact the governor; you have to contact everybody you can. Like I said, mention their names everywhere you can, and let people know you have been messaging these people. If they don’t get back to you, that shows how much they care, right?

Carole Reynolds: That’s exactly right. I got an e-mail from Melissa Barton. She said that she had contacts and would be letting them know about this.

Tricia Kenney: Good. Melissa Barton is just a wonderful advocate. She did some great work for her son, Alex, who was voted out of his kindergarten class. They went through a lot of bad stuff, but she was on the morning news, she was on TV programs, she was all over the place. That’s what we need to happen for you and Zakh. The exposure will trickle down. Unfortunately, the person who abused her son is still a teacher; they reinstated her. But hopefully, enough people know her name that they are not letting their children go to her classroom.

Alexander Cheezem in the chatroom is saying that if you give him the name of the person who’s working with Zakh that doesn’t know very much about autism, he can send him some materials.

We have a caller. Hello? You’re on the air.

Sharon daVanport: Tricia?

Tricia Kenney: Hi. I’m wondering if somebody can videotape Carole and the story, so that they can send it in and get reviewed through CNNs iReport. They get viewed pretty quick. Those are immediate newsworthy events that are happening today. I wonder if someone can do that and send it in.

Carole Reynolds: I don’t know how to do it.

Sharon daVanport: Do you have anyone, Carole, that has a video camera?

Carole Reynolds: Yeah. We have a video camera. But I’ve got that one video of Zakh and his sister playing on my e-mail that I tried for hours to transfer to my website. I couldn’t do it. I looked up all the helps and everything.

Sharon daVanport: Tricia, you and I should talk after the show. Maybe we could get some news stations in Fort Smith, Arkansas. If we can get some people calling into the local news stations, maybe they’ll take notice, and somebody will come and do this story. This is just craziness.

Carole Reynolds: It’s called intimidation and fear. It’s the good ole boy system.

Tricia Kenney: [Unknown] No news people have picked this up yet; it’s all the autism community and bloggers and so on. Not a single news station or newspaper has picked this up yet.

Sharon daVanport: All right, Carole; what are the news stations in your town? We gotta get people calling in.

Carole Reynolds: It’s 40-29, and then Channel 5.

Sharon daVanport: Just to let everyone know, be real respectful, but let them know this is serious. We’re gonna catch people’s attention if they don’t think that we’re some crazies. We don’t want them to be turned away from Carole before she even gets in the door.

Tricia Kenney: And let them know how newsworthy it is. People everywhere should be paying attention to this.

Sharon daVanport: We don’t have to blame anyone or point any fingers; the story will tell itself. Just tell the story to the news station. If you start putting a spin on it too much in the beginning, they may be turned off by it.

Carole Reynolds: Channel 40-29’s phone munber is (479) 783-4040. And then K-HOG in Rogers is (479) 878-6088.

Tricia Kenney: Okay, people. Give these places a call. We have to get this going; we only have a few days left until this goest to court. We do not want Zakh taken away again. This little boy does not need to have that happen again.

Carole Reynolds: As somebody pointed out to me, the teacher and the principal filing the felony charges made that decision when they went after him.They knew they could get hurt. They’re not trained in restraints.

Tricia Kenney: Ugh. They’re not even trained in restraining?

Carole Reynolds: No. You don’t have to be in Arkansas.

Tricia Kenney: They took it upon themselves to just restrain him. [Sarcastically] That’s nice.

Carole Reynolds: Yeah. That’s like me getting in between somebody fighting, getting hit, and then saying: “Why’d you hit me?”

Tricia Kenney: Or that’s like going to help somebody drowning and pushing everybody out of the way and doing CPR even though you don’t know how to do CPR.

Carole Reynolds: Alex Cheezem has been a wonderful help. He’s been incredibly supportive. Him and Alex got to talk on Sunday. On Zakh’s part, it was instant rapport. They just clicked. I think Alex felt the same way.

Tricia Kenney: Aw. Well, he is just the sweetest kid, and I’m so glad everybody had a chance to hear from him today and to hear how sweet he is and what a good kid he is. I think that really does a lot, when we can make that more personal connection. I hope this’ll drive people to strive even harder to get connections out there made to try and find help for you, and try and do what we can to support you in this.

Carole Reynolds: Yeah. Well, I appreciate it; I really do.

Tricia Kenney: Is there anything else you would like to say to everybody?

Carole Reynolds: [Crying] No matter what the outcome, my faith in Americans that really care has been refreshed. It won’t be because we didn’t try. I really appreciate what everybody’s doing, beyond words. Thank you.

Sharon daVanport: Hang in there, Carole.

Tricia Kenney: We love you guys, okay? We love you, Carole and Zakh, and we’re gonna do everything we can, all right? You just hang in there, and we’ll be putting up updates as they come.

Carole Reynolds: All right. Thanks, everybody.

Tricia Kenney: That is just heartbreaking. I wanna thank Sharon for calling in, and helping to get some more stuff accomplished here. We’re all gonna be doing what we can, and please just keep in touch with Carole with anything that comes up. Keep trying. I wanted to thank everybody for pulling together like they have, and trying to help as much as they can. Thank you so much. Take care, and God bless.


5 Responses

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  1. codeman38 said, on January 7, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    Thanks for the transcript. Grr, this is just saddening to read. -_-;;

  2. xine said, on January 9, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Thank you so much for this! People’s ignorance is truly baffling.

  3. Alexander Cheezem said, on January 12, 2010 at 10:08 am

    RE the spelling of my last name, it’s above. 🙂

    • Tera said, on January 13, 2010 at 10:36 pm

      Hi, Alexander,

      Thanks! The spelling is fixed. 🙂

  4. […] Marc Rosen: Well enough. I’ve just been trying to manage the stuff in Arkansas with that case. […]

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