Monday night, in an effort to demonstrate inhumane practices known as "aversives" happening in special-ed classrooms across the county, school district officials in Texas were asked to insert vinegar-soaked cotton balls into their mouths. The request came from advocate and NAA board member Leslie Phillips following multiple reports from local parents who say their children attending Exley Elementary school in Katy were force-fed cotton balls soaked with vinegar as a form of discipline. "There were no takers to the request," said Phillips.
According to parents, Exley students, some of whom are nonverbal, were sometimes forced to get on a classroom treadmill, ostensibly there for exercise breaks and forced to go faster or longer than they wanted. In addition, cotton balls saturated with vinegar were placed into their mouths to control behavior. Parents say they were told certain "procedures" had been used on their children without their knowledge or consent, and the district would address the issue. Exley Elementary School Principal Imelda Medrano used only vague references, saying, "a treadmill was used" and "vinegar was introduced."
Parents Carol and Bill Rutar said they were dumbfounded to learn these strategies were not illegal. "If I were to attempt to force an adult to do something like this, I would be arrested and charged with assault and battery. Further, if this happened to a student in a general education setting, there would be public outrage. It's precisely the type of bullying behavior between students that is the focus of national attention and expressly prohibited," said Carol Rutar.
Parents still await information from the investigation, conducted by the district's own police department who has confirmed the matter has been handed over to the District Attorney.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Vinegar and Aversives
A press release from the National Autism Association: