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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Restraint in Indiana

In Indianapolis, WRTV reports:
Autism advocates are concerned an Indiana Court of Appeals' decision to drop charges against a special education teacher who helped restrain a special needs student could send the wrong message to Indiana teachers.

Catherine Littleton, a teacher at Perry Meridian Middle School, was originally charged with confinement, battery and neglect of a dependent in connection with her treatment of a 12-year-old boy with autism in February 2010.

Authorities said the student, who had a history of behavioral problems, began striking himself in the classroom.

When other measures did not calm him down, investigators said Littleton allowed her teacher's aide to tape socks over the boy's hands, use orthopedic belts to tie his legs to a chair, then tipped the chair onto its back on the classroom floor.

The Appeals Court on Thursday dismissed the charges against Littleton, calling the action neither "an unreasonable use of force or based upon an unreasonable belief that such action was necessary to protect (the student) and others in the classroom."

But the Autism Society of Indiana and parents of special needs students expressed concern Friday that the case could affect how teachers restrain children.

"There are guidelines, and there are ways to do it effectively, because you can really hurt someone," said Executive Director Dana Renay. "We need to work harder to educate parents and make sure schools have their policies in place and people know what their children's rights are.”