Are you the parent of a child with autism or another disability that is very concerned about your child’s safety at school, due to negative behavior? Has your child been physically or emotionally injured by restraint and seclusion, by special education personnel? This article will discuss 6 ways that school districts can deal with behavior rather than relying on restraint and seclusion!
Restraint is defined as any manual method, physical, material, equipment that immobilizes or reduces the ability of an individual. In school districts they mainly use holding techniques. Prone restraints (where the child is held face down) are the most dangerous and cause the most incidence of injury and death!
Seclusion is defined as the placing of a person involuntarily in a room or area alone and prevent them from leaving. Some schools have started relying on time out rooms to seclude children with disabilities when they misbehave.
Below are 6 things that special education personnel in your district can do to decrease or eliminate the use of restraint and seclusion in their schools:
1. They can have school wide policies in place with specific instructions on when restraint and seclusion will be used; and also policies developed on releasing the information to the public. By keeping written charts on when it is used, and releasing the information to the public on when it is used, will actually cause restraint and seclusion to be used less. The danger comes when special education personnel keep the information secret, and refuse to share it with the public; ask your district for accountability!
2. Stop relying on punishment, restraint and seclusion to deal with children’s negative behavior. One of the important things to know is that a lot of children with disabilities have behavior that is related to their disability. Also, it is proven in research that punishment, restraint and seclusion do not work in the long term to change a child’s behavior!
3. Have good attitudes that include all children in the school; including children with disabilities! Personnel that take a positive proactive approach to school order and behavior can absolutely have a wonderful affect, on all of the children in the school. Positive attitudes encourage learning, negative attitudes discourage learning!
4. Teachers and other special education personnel need to be taught not to overreact to behavior. By appropriately dealing with negative behavior the child’s behavior may decrease, but on the other hand overreacting to the behavior, can escalate the behavior. I have seen this many times over the years; a child with autism gets upset and the teacher jumps in; gets in the child’s face and escalates (makes worse) the child’s behavior! Teachers must learn to step back and give the child time to calm themselves down!
5. Understand the huge connection between behavioral difficulty and academic difficulty. Many parents call me when their child has negative school behavior, and ask for help. I ask them: how is your child’s academics? In 100% of the cases the child is below average in all areas of academics. The child is telling the people around them: I cannot do this work, so I am going to misbehave so that I can avoid the work! Avoidance of hard academics is the cause of a lot of negative school behavior!
6. Use research based processes; positive behavioral supports and plans to deal with a child’s negative school behavior. The process starts with a Functional Behavioral Analysis (FBA) to determine what the child is getting from the negative behavior. Is it to avoid hard academics? Is it to access attention? Then a properly conducted FBA is used to develop a positive behavioral plan. This is not a punishment plan, but a plan to increase positive school behavior which then decreases negative school behavior.
Bring these 6 things to your school district and ask them to implement them for your child and other children. This will ensure that all children have a positive environment to learn; even children with disabilities!