Nonverbal Autistic Student Hit in Face During Meltdown by Adult Who Claimed He Was “Trying to Help”

Sammy Alford is a 20-year-old student set to graduate high school next year. He is on the autism spectrum and is nonverbal, but he’s never let that stop him from doing cool things with his life like rock climbing, rappelling, camping, fishing, and hunting with his family.

Usually, adults are some of Sammy’s best advocates; they help him with whatever they can and are understanding and kind. However, recently Sammy was unexpectedly physically assaulted by an adult man while he was in the middle of a meltdown.

Photo: 12 News

Sammy was on board his Peoria school bus on his way to school when the incident occurred. He was having a behavioral episode while another special-needs student was boarding the bus, and the bus driver was trying to calm him down. Then an adult relative of another student jumped on board the bus, apparently in an attempt to help the bus driver get the situation under control.

“When the guy comes toward him, he puts his legs up to prevent that, kind of pushes back on the guy, and that’s when the guy lunged right at him and hit him right square in the nose,” says Sammy’s dad, Scott Alford, after watching the school bus surveillance video.

Photo: 12 News

The footage from the camera on the school bus has not yet been released to the public, but police reports describe what it shows. The reports say Sammy was strapped into his seat while a 69-year-old man boarded the bus and hit him in the face.

According to police, the man told the bus driver he was “trying to help,” but it’s hard to see how he thought his actions would be helpful.

Photo: 12 News

“He was yelling obscenities. He was being offensive. He was being threatening,” says Scott.

“Hearing him when he got punched was gutwrenching because you hear the pain in his voice,” says Sammy’s mom. “It’s very shocking, the thought that somebody put their hands on your kid.”

Photo: 12 News

The man may be charged with vulnerable adult abuse, but it has not yet been determined whether he will face charges. He has not yet been named.

The family hopes that the school district will work with them to help Sammy become comfortable riding the school bus again, since the incident has obviously traumatized him. They hope a therapist can be brought on board the school bus to assist him.

Learn more about Sammy, his family, and this unfortunate incident in the video below.

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