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Article of Interest - Restraint

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Bridges4Kids LogoThe Use of Physical Restraints on Special Education Children has to End

by Jeffrey M. Williams, Parental Guardian of Illinois: Watchdog publication reporting on special education issues within Illinois.
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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. In light of the injuries to the boy in Peru (this happened in Illinois, not South America) and the recent death of an Autistic child in Michigan and Milwaukee; I felt compelled to make the statement. And while the child in Milwaukee died from the ignorance of his caretakers, it does illustrate what can happen when untrained people attempt dangerous maneuvers on misunderstood participants.

Staggeringly, the Autism National Committee reports between 50 and 150 children die each year during or immediately after a physical restraint.

Any child who could be the receiver of physical force by a school district had better have a behavioral modification plan in place to augment the IEP and provide a blueprint of steps to follow before a takedown is to occur.

This would outline redirection and environmental awareness steps teachers should focus on before the situation goes physical. Additionally, this provides the parents with assurances that teachers and aides are properly trained in Crisis Prevention and Intervention or physical restraints. The State of Illinois mandates all school personnel who might be in a position to deliver a physical restraint be certified. This means if the school district informs a parent this might happen, asks the parent to sign a waver on its use, or includes the possibility during the discussions then those teachers should have the proper certifications.

What’s important to note about certifications is not the act of learning how to apply basket hold itself, it’s the intensive training leading up to the use of forces. Most training programs are ¾ de-escalation and ¼ physical restraint. This will provide teachers with the tools to avert the need to use force.

It is indescribable to express my discontent for a system focusing on blanket restraints instead of root problems. I can just picture the scene down in Peru on that fall day. The child with Downs playing at recess but it is time to go back inside. The teacher, laying down demands to him, like she did to all her students, but this is not the other students.

I can see Jacob, my son, stubbornly refusing to go back inside.

Jacob responds well to redirection. Combined with a little reward system on the side, he is putty in your hands. However, he does not respond to verbal commands.

Would one of his non-disabled peers get in trouble for insubordinate behavior? Of course but they do not operate under an IEP. Should Jacob require the ‘basket hold’ to circumvent him from potentially injuring himself or other students when he stomps his feet, better not.

The use of take down techniques and physical restraints on mentally impaired children has to end. These actions were developed to protect children from injury to self and others however it has been used increasingly as a forced compliance method for children whom display insubordinate actions. 


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