PENSACOLA, Fla. (WALA) - Conner Brown is like any other 13-year-old.
He thrives on being outside, doing things like throwing the Frisbee with his older brother Michael. He even enjoys a good cartoon now and again.
But, Conner has been diagnosed as having high-functioning autism, which requires special care in school.
"He may be 13 years old, but his development really is more like a 6-year-old, 7-year-old," said his stepfather, Charles Markin.
Brown is being accused of striking his speech therapist with a set of headphones earlier this month at Ferry Pass Middle School. He'll face third degree felony battery charges.
The therapist, 57-year-old Kathy Roupe, declined to speak with FOX10 News.
To get her side, we spoke to the Escambia County Sheriff's Office.
"There did not appear to be any serious injuries," said sheriff's office spokesman Mike Ward. "According to the report, I don't believe she sought any kind of medical attention, but in her words ‘it felt like it hit her so hard that it cracked her skull.'"
Markin said Conner reacts negatively to loud noises, so when one student was being exceptionally loud in his special education class, Conner acted out.
"The fact that the child was talking during a time he wasn't supposed to be talking," Markin said. "That could also be a problem, because when you get them used to a particular set of rules, a particular way of doing things, if that routine is broken that can cause serious issues."
Conner's former neighbor said she was surprised by the allegations.
"I've never seen him hit or hurt anybody. This whole thing is such a shame," Rian Kegerreis said.
But, Markin said the biggest shame is how our justice system treats those with special needs, children and adults alike.
"The whole idea of punishment in the judicial system is rehabilitation. If you don't understand why you're being punished, there's no rehabilitation there at all," Markin said.
Brown has pleaded not guilty to the charges. His next court appearance is March 6.
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