Monday, April 11, 2011

Absolutely No Justification

Kim: Below is a video that everyone in the autism community needs to see. We want a place for consensus, a place where we can agree action needs to happen (although you would have thought a sustained cacophony or chorus, your pick, would have occurred over the Judge Rotenberg Center), then this has to be one of those areas. There is absolutely no justification for this. This will not let the child practice his relaxation techniques as this assistant principal so blandly presents.

Kathleen: I was horrified watching this. Firstly, the language used to describe using this device- "The child is escorted over by two people and gently lowered on the mat."  Gently?  I don't know about anyone else's experience here, I can only speak from my own.  There was a time when one of my sons was prone to rather large "outbursts"-screaming, kicking, throwing things.  I can speak from experience in saying that there is absolutely no way that he would have accepted being "escorted" by two people-let alone be "gently lowered" anywhere. In other words-he would have fought tooth and nail against anyone trying to touch him. Furthermore, asking him to practice his "relaxation technique" in a situation where all control was taken away from him is absurd. It is more than likely, he would have quieted down from sheer exhaustion-from fighting the restraints.  After which of course he would be returned to his seat. I can not imagine what the atmosphere must be like in that classroom. The constant fear-the reminder..step out of line and you will lose your freedom, your dignity and your humanity.

   The justification given for using this device is to "protect against human error."  What does that mean?  Which humans are they talking about?  Certainly not the students.  Now, I understand not wanting a student to hurt themselves, or others. I understand not wanting to physically hurt a student.  All of these things make sense. Restraining someone in order to prevent these things does not.  Nor does trying to sell the idea that it somehow this helps the student practice their "relaxation process.". I find the idea repugnant.  There are many other techniques and strategies that can be used.  They do however require skills and training. It would appear that the promoting of the use of restraint is an easy fix-and definitely less costly. My question is-what does it do?  When does it end?  One only needs to look at the "Judge Rotenberg Center" and the testimony of parents who support the use of restraints and electro-shock aversion "therapy, to see that it doesn't end.

There are people there who have spent DECADES hooked up to electro shock back packs. Decades being treated less than animals. Decades-because it keeps them "safe."  Unfortunately not safe from human error.

posted by Kim and Kathleen of ABD


Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

Things like this make me absolutely ill. People have died from it. Am including a link that hopefully you find helpful. Please keep speaking out for the powerless ones!

Cortney said...

Thank you for sharing this, I am horrified at the entire thing! Similar to the what Kathleen said, if a student has escalated to the point where physical restraint seems to be the only option, there is no way that that student will go calmly to a matt and be gently put down. Our school district just changed our ProActive approach to restraining students and we are no allowed to put any student in four point restraint which is what that matt is. Actually, we are no longer allowed to do any kind of restraint that involves putting students on the floor. Instead, we are to use proactive behavior management and then if it escalates we are to evade and evacuate other students.
I just can't imagine who came up with this and who thought ii would be a good idea.

Angel said...

I have no words for this. :(

Looking for Blue Sky said...

I couldn't watch, but it sounds completely unacceptable :(

Casdok said...

When someone is in such huge distress - that is the last thing you should do to them.
Like you i am horrified shocked and so sad that things like this goes on.

Rhonda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kim and Kathleen said...

Rhonda-I'm sorry if you saw this judgement and degrading going on here. We don't see that. No comments had been directed at parents. We wrote of our horror at the thought that rather than using other alternatives, this school appears to be jumping to a full restraint use. The horror is for the children who should be capable of being better assisted; if the school can't provide the quality intervention that allows for alternatives to physical restraints then the child is inappropriately placed. And if the child is so severe that physical restraints are it, the child doesn't belong at home or in the school until the aggression can be managed better. There are other ways. Unfortunately they take time, training, research-just to name a few. Unfortunately, that is not what is offered in many schools.

Rhonda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kim Wombles said...

"To say that if they're experiencing such a RAGE behaviors purely means they're mis placed is absurd."

That's not what we said.

And Kathleen and I have never argued that autism is pretty all the time. You have built an entire comment around strawmen arguments.

If your child's aggression is out of control, placement in the home may not be appropriate. That is a cold hard reality to face. But it's one some of us must face. No family should have to live in fear.

You've already acknowledged your son has another diagnosis that accounts for and describes his aggressive outbursts. Why you then continue to ascribe that behavior to autism is beyond me.

You reacted emotionally to our post; I can understand that. When you're dealing with violence on a regular basis, you just want it to stop. Well, putting the individual into restraints doesn't solve the problem long term and creates the potential for escalation at a later date.

Too many vulnerable individuals are harmed with restraints.

The reality is regarding restraints that emergency restraints are dangerous both for the individual and the restrainers.

That full body restraint device isn't a tool. It's a punishment and getting an individual already in an explosive situation into that restraint is dangerous for everyone involved. More dangerous than evacuating the area and letting the client decompress.

According to LaBel et al. (2010), regarding restraints: "These practices are traumatizing and dangerous to both children and staff; costly to agencies in terms of program operations, staff morale, and client outcomes; and inconsistent with researched best practices."

Yes, it is true that sometimes restraint (be it seclusion, physical restraint, mechanical restraint, or chemical) will be necessary. But it doesn't belong in the public school system being done by school teachers. And when it is done, mechanical and physical restraint should always be the last choice.

Rhonda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kim Wombles said...

I'm sorry, there's no way you actually READ my comment.

And I'll go where I want to go when I want to go. Seriously? That comes across as so incredibly juvenile.

Kathleen and I advocate for better training, for protection of our most vulnerable, and I'm assuming despite your double negative, you don't want to be associated with a directory that welcomes all in the community despite differences in ideology, that works for quality interventions and respect for autistic individuals as well as support for parents and families?

Okay then. We wish you well.

Cortney said...

I would like to throw another 2 cents into this posting if I may...I am by no means taking sides but I would like to point out that this specific devise shown requires 3 adults to safety place the student on the matt AND that the straps are made of Velcro. As a teacher I have seen many violent outbursts from a variety of sizes of students and I can assure you that Velcro will NOT help safety restrain a student from hurting themselves and others. And again as I said before, our school has a proactive approach and that includes evading and evacuating other students.

Furthermore, I have to say that I do not understand Rhonda's rational for thinking that this devise would somehow allow her to physically manage her son alone if her husband is 45 minutes away and she has no other assistance in the home.

I am obviously a teacher and not a mother and I do not know what it is like to spend the entire day and night with a child with disabilities and I give mothers (and fathers) all the credit in the world but sometimes you have to love your children enough to give them up and ask for help, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Thanks for letting me jump in and share.



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