In hot water over hot sauce

19 Aug

Yahoo! News reported on a teacher who used hot sauce on crayons to deter her autistic student from eating them.

“Lillian Gomez was fired from her job at Sunrise Elementary School in Kissimmee, Fla., in February after school officials found out that Gomez had allegedly put jumbo-sized Crayons in a cup and soaked them for days in hot sauce before moving them to a bag that was labeled with the student’s name.”

The presiding judge ruled in favor of Gomez, and recommended her job be reinstated. (For the full story, click here.)

It’s an interesting story, and the comments from the general public were what really fascinated me. I found a mixture of outrage and support. But, the overwhelming majority defended the teacher and judge. Here are some of the comments on the article:

  • If this was her most creative plan of action she is in the wrong occupation. At the very least consult with the parents first. I am appalled at this teacher and at this judge-SouthernGirl
  • This is sickening!- Mary M
  • I can honestly and truthfully, whole-heartedly say…I hope those of you who think this is a good idea, choke on your words.- Kels
  • My nephew is autistic. If I found out someone did something like this to him, for my sister, I’d go postal on that person!!- Starfirelite79
  • As someone with an autistic relative I think this idea is brilliant.- Nicole
  • Honestly, if my kids were eating crayons, I’d rather them taste something a little spicy rather than ingest a bunch of colored wax.-Moon Pies and Blue Skies
  • It wasn’t punitive at all it was preventative. There is a huge difference between using hot sauce to prevent a choking incident and doing it to punish a child.-AndyShep
  • My son is Autistic and I see nothing wrong with what she did.-71
  • Sounds like she was trying to get the kid to ….. STOP EATING CRAYONS. What the heck is wrong with that??- Boobania
  • So damn if you do damn if you don’t. let the kid eat the crayons get fired, do what she did get fired.-Caliguy
  • I think she did the right thing – because it prevented the child from swallowing colored wax-RandaR
  • Its just hot sauce folks, people are acting like she put rat poison on the crayons.-Jerilyah

I know, at first glance it sounds outrageous and abusive and insane…A teacher putting hot-sauce on crayons…for an autistic kid!?!?!?! But in looking at the whole picture, one can see that she was attempting to make the crayon eating behavior aversive and thereby less reinforcing. She was trying to decrease a maladaptive behavior by making it unpleasant. I don’t think it was an evil or cruel act. I think where she went wrong was not first gaining consent from the parents, school board, etc. She is responsible to follow all ethical guidelines and codes of conduct. But I absolutely think she was trying to do the right thing, and I believe she had the child’s best interest in mind.

Where do you stand on this issue?

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3 Responses to “In hot water over hot sauce”

  1. TwinkieMom2002 August 20, 2012 at 10:38 pm #

    I agree with you. Not a grievous offense but she should’ve first gotten the parents’ consent. Who knows, they might’ve preferred, oh I don’t know…perhaps soaking them in lemon juice? 😉

    • angelina258 August 29, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

      Funny thing….I had the same thought about lemon juice. Imagine that!

  2. morepotatoesplease October 26, 2012 at 12:02 am #

    She is a special education teacher, not a therapist. Leave the therapy sessions to the trained professionals. They are the ones that is suppose to help with behaviors like this, not a teacher. She is there to teach..nothing more than that.

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