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Last Updated: 02/01/2018

IEP Issues - Use of Restraint and Seclusion

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MI Standards for the Emergency Use of Seclusion & Restraint - The document, Supporting Student Behavior: Standards for the Emergency Use of Seclusion and Restraint is now available on the Office of Special Education and Early Intervention Services (OSE-EIS) Web site. The document summarizes how a positive behavior support approach uses proactive strategies to reduce or eliminate the use of seclusion and restraint; defines the terms "seclusion" and "restraint"; outlines procedures for emergency use of seclusion and restraint; and provides a framework for training.


GA Georgia 8th-Grader’s Suicide Spurs Lawsuit - Jonathan King told teachers at his north Georgia alternate public school that he couldn’t stand being locked within the concrete walls of a small seclusion room. In 2004, just weeks after threatening suicide, the 13-year-old eighth-grader hanged himself in the room, using a cord a teacher provided him to hold up his pants, court records show.


MI Policy Supports Student Behavior - In question and answer format, this article discusses how the State of Michigan, Office of Special Education and Early Intervention Services is interpreting the December 12, 2006 policy passed by the Michigan State Board of Education on Standards for the Emergency Use of Seclusion and Restraint. [Focus on Results: 2007-08 Volume #6, Issue #2, Packet #11, Article 1]


MA School Gets 'Ok' to Use Shock Treatments for Year - A special education school where two emotionally disturbed students were wrongly given dozens of shocks after a prank call will be allowed to use electric shock treatments on students for another year.


In The Name of Treatment: A Parent's Guide to Protecting Your Child From the Use of Restraint, Aversive Interventions, and Seclusion (PDF) - Includes detailed information on restraint, aversive interventions, and seclusion. Also included is a "No Consent Form" for parents to give to their school to deny permission to use aversive procedures. Note: Images included are of children being restrained. Some viewers may find these images disturbing.


Reformers Push to End Restraint, Seclusion - Death, injuries prompt training of workers in more positive methods. Matthew Goodman, an autistic teen, spent the last 16 months of his life heavily sedated, in arm splints and a helmet, at Bancroft NeuroHealth in New Jersey. The restraints were supposed to keep him from picking at an injury, but his mother thinks they contributed to his death at age 14.  Children who fight, throw tantrums or threaten workers while in residential care in Ohio are more likely to be tackled or dragged to a ‘‘seclusion room" than given a psychiatric drug.


U.S. Connecticut and Michigan Will Help Develop Alternatives To Restraint - Three years ago, the Hartford Courant ran an investigative series into the restraint-related deaths of adults and children -- as young as 6 years of age -- in institutions housing people with mental illness and developmental disabilities. The team of reporters found that 142 such deaths occurred nationwide during the previous 10 years.


The Family Alliance to Stop Abuse and Neglect - a New Jersey organization currently dealing with the issues surrounding restraint.


The Use of Physical Restraints on Special Education Children has to End - I made a phone call the other day to Jake's school to state my position on restraining my son. He is hands off! No questions! This is a comment I would have never thought I have to make and, frankly shouldn’t have to make.


Sample Letter: Letter Requesting "No Restraint" - click here.


Behavioral Health Groups Publish "Learning From Each Other: Success Stories and Ideas for Reducing Restraint/Seclusion in Behavioral Health" - Resource Guide Provides Practical Help in Creating a Culture of Safety, Respect, and Dignity.

The Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), in collaboration with the Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health, serves as the Coordinating Center for a three-year project designed to reduce the use of restraint and seclusion procedures with children receiving services in five demonstration sites across the country.


Matthews Law: "Restraints are the failure of treatment."  Matthew Goodman was born on March 4, 1987. As a toddler he was diagnosed with autism. At age nine Matthew went to live at the Haddonfield, New Jersey campus of Bancroft NeuroHealth, where his family believed he would receive a good education and appropriate therapy. In September of 2000 Bancroft placed Matthew in arm restraints, later adding a helmet similar to a hockey mask. Against the protests of his parents, Matthew was made to wear these restraints during the day and often during the night. He no longer was taken to school, saw no friends, enjoyed no recreation, and was offered no activities or programming. In addition to the mechanical restraints Matthew was drugged with medication. He spent his days lying on the floor of Bancroft's "neurohealth unit," barely conscious. On February 6, Matthew died of pneumonia and blood poisoning after 16 months of restraint.


Positive Behavior Support Information from Bridges4Kids - click here.


Alternatives to Restraint

List from the Matthew's Law Website

  • The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Positive Behavioral Support, funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, U.S. Department of Education:

  • The Beach Center on Disability at the University of Kansas, providing technical assistance, policy analyses, and research linking positive behavioral supports to quality of family life:

  • TASH, an international association concerned with human dignity, civil rights, education, and independence for all individuals with disabilities:

  • Autism Research and Training Center of the University of California at Santa Barbara, developing positive behavioral supports for a disability considered especially challenging:

  • The Journal of Positive Behavioral Interventions:


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