January 25, 2012
TASH member Kym Grosso was recently featured at PsychologyToday.com. Grosso, the mother of a thirteen-year-old son with Asperger’s syndrome, wrote of the all-too troubling realities that face many children on a daily basis. In her article, Kym brought attention to the chilling truth these students often must contend with, to which she said, “as I write, children with autism are regularly and legally restrained and secluded against their will. Most states have little to no laws regarding seclusion and restraint.” However, while the Federal Government acknowledges that restraint and seclusion are dangerous and traumatic, not therapeutic in nature, educating the public about this issue and passing protective legislation has been a slow and painstaking process.”
Kym outlines why response to the issue has been slow but argues that such a response is necessary to protect the human rights of individuals with disabilities who have every right to a school environment without fear. The reason many school systems still feel the need to use practices such as restraint and seclusion is a lack of understanding about disabilities, like autism, she says. Many times, when administrators say that a child is “out of control” they don’t fully appreciate that many autistic children are simply non-verbal and struggling to communicate with their teachers or peers.
In order to combat the use of restraint and seclusion, school administrators and teachers must show a greater willingness to understand how autism and other disabilities impact those who have them so that they can more appropriately understand when a child is truly acting out or merely expressing frustration over difficulties communicating. Because states have been slow to adopt such measures themselves, it would be useful for the Federal Government to step in and provide guidelines about the use of such practices.
To learn more about this important issue, please read the article by Kym Grosso.
Some other important resources:
Action Alert: Tell Congress to Keep our Students Safe.
Shouldn’t School Be Safe? A parent’s guide on prevention, detection and response to restraint, seclusion or other aversive interventions.
The Cost of Waiting. A report on restraint, seclusion and aversive procedures one year after the passage of the Keeping All Students Safe Act in the U.S. House of Representatives (issued April 2011).
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