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Liverpool - A mother who was filmed dragging her four-year-old along the pavement has insisted ‘it was the only way’ she could move her autistic son.

Footage of the woman pulling the child on the ground by his harness through a city centre went viral on Thursday after it was posted online by a shocked witness.

But the mother, who does not wish to be named, has defended her actions and criticised people for judging her parenting ‘before they know the situation’.

She explained that her son had thrown a tantrum and was refusing to move moments before the video was taken in the centre of Liverpool.

"My son has autism, he has meltdowns and throws himself on the floor", she told the Liverpool Echo. "What I am doing in that video is the only way I can move him. He does it all the time and won’t get up or let me pick him up. He just drops to the floor like a sack of spuds."

The video was viewed thousands of times, with hundreds posting comments questioning why no one intervened. The 31-year-old mother said it angered her that her son had been compared to a ‘rag doll’, and she was offended by the suggestion he had fallen over and she had not picked him up.

She added: "People are making me out to be a bad mum – I am not a bad mum. They should ask before they judge me. Only two women came up to me and I said, “He has severe autism”.

"And I would have told that to anyone who asked me, but people just stare at me and him and judge and think he is not normal. He is normal, he just has autism."

The single mother of one, who lives in Liverpool, said her son was diagnosed with autism when he was two and reacts badly to being around crowds of people.

"I can’t go for walks very often before he has these meltdowns. People don’t understand how hard it is having an autistic child, especially when they are so strong."

"He has attacked me before and knocked me off my feet, but he doesn’t know he is hurting me."

"He can be the same with his friends. It is very stressful. He isn’t a naughty child, he is very loving. And people just look at me like something is wrong with him."

"I have the reins on him because he has no sense of danger. I try my best and people that know me know that I am a good mum."

The man who shared the video online, known only as Joe, told the Echo: "I was walking through town and the kid fell over and then the woman saw the kid had fallen but kept on walking."

"The kid seemed fine with everything to be honest, it was people who saw it that seemed worse off."

"She walked on like that for a while. It sort of caught everyone off guard really, nobody knew what to say or do."

Merseyside Police said they were investigating the video after it was reported to them, adding that CCTV was being checked.