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Monday, August 17, 2015


In The Politics of AutismI discuss the use of restraint and seclusion in schools.

Christina Samuels reports at Education Week:
Restraint and seclusion in schools, particularly when used with students with disabilities, has been a simmering national issue for years.
But when video of a Kentucky school resource officer handcuffing an 8-year-old boy was released earlier this month by the American Civil Liberties Union, debate over the practice of restraining students erupted anew. The ACLU filed a lawsuit against the school resource officer, Kevin Sumner, and his employer, the Kenton County, Ky., sheriff's department.
The seven-minute video, which shows a whimpering and crying boy with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder cuffed at the biceps behind his back while Sumner stands nearby, is also stirring debate about disability, race (one of the children in the lawsuit is Hispanic, and one is African-American), and the role of school resource officers. And experts in school security say that the incident brings up another vexing issue: School resource officers are too often pulled into disciplinary issues that are better left to school staff.

 From a Connecticut report (See post for 2/8/15)
In Connecticut, children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are the most likely children to be restrained or secluded in school. Experts have strongly cautioned against reliance on seclusion and restraint for children and adults with Autism. In 2011, the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), authorized under federal law as an advisory committee per the Combating Autism Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-416), issued a public letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services outlining significant concerns regarding the pervasive use of restraint and seclusion for children with autism. The IACC—chaired by Thomas Insel, M.D., Director of the National Institute of Mental Health—stated:
[U]tilization of restraint or seclusion should be viewed as a treatment failure that exacerbates behavioral challenges and induces additional trauma.
In its letter, which specifically addressed seclusion and restraint in schools, the IACC endorsed numerous recommendations for federal agencies including regulatory reform, improved data collection, guidance and technical assistance for providers, concluding:
“[F]ederal legislation is urgently needed to ensure the safety of all students and staff” by requiring standards for monitoring and enforcement of restraint and seclusion practices, as well as prohibition of mechanical, chemical, and high-risk physical restraints . . . “the use of seclusion and restraint in every setting is a critical issue for people with ASD and other disabilities and their families that requires immediate Federal attention.” xiv