12 Things to Know About the GAO Report and Hearings on Restraint and Seclusion in Special Education
Are you the parent of a child with autism or pervasive developmental disorder(PDD)? Are you concerned about your school districts reaction to your child’s negative behavior? Have you seen the recent news about the Government Accounting Office (GAO) report, and the legislative hearings being held on the use of restraint and seclusion in school districts? Would you like to have more information on the GAO report and legislative hearings so that you can use it to benefit your child’s education? This article is for you; Information on the Government Accounting Office report entitled: Special Needs Kids Abused in Schools, and recent legislative hearings.
Things you need to know from the GAO report:
1. Congressional auditors have uncovered widespread abuse of restraint to discipline special education students in US schools!
2. Serious problems with the way that children with disabilities are being treated in public schools; including the use of deadly prone restraints (which means that the child is face down)!
3. Many special needs children are subjected to the use of restraints and seclusion that may cause them permanent emotional damage!
4. Many school personnel that have injured or caused the death of a child in school, due to the use of restraints are still working in school settings!
5. Experts have long recommended that children should only be isolated (secluded) when they posed an immediate threat to themselves or others. But CNN found that seclusion or isolation was often used as a punishment by teachers to make a child follow instructions!
6. What frustrates experts the most is that efforts to force unruly children to comply, by the use of restraints and seclusion, do not actually work!
7. Report talked about a school Centennial School at Lehigh University for students with severe emotional disturbances. The staff was able to decrease use of restraint and seclusion from 1,000 documented cases to 0 documented cases. They taught children new skills, helped them calm down when upset by giving them space, used positive attitudes and positive supports when needed etc.
There experience should be a beacon to all schools; positive behavioral supports as well as teaching of needed skills does work in decreasing negative behavior! Rather than relying on punishment and the use of seclusion and restraint.
The GAO report was used as part of the hearing that was held May 19th 2009 in Washington DC on the use of restraints and seclusion in school districts. The legislators found:
8. No evidence that restraint and seclusion help change a child’s negative behavior!
9. That the practice of using restraint and seclusion in school districts is an unacceptable practice, and needs to be changed!
10. That state laws are patchy at best! Even when state laws exist, enforcement is almost non existent!
11. A federal registry of school personnel that injured children in schools must be developed. Teachers are going from state to state to avoid state wide registries. A federal registry would prevent this, and keep children safe!
12. That Federal legislation is required to limit or end the practice of restraint and seclusion in school districts. State laws are too scattered and not enforced to help children not be victims of child abuse at school.
Restraint and Seclusion do not work to improve a child’s behavior. Also punishment does not bring about long term behavioral change. Positive behavioral supports which are developed from a appropriately developed Functional Behavioral Assessment does work to positively improve a child’s school behavior. Insist on the use of FBA’s and Positive Behavioral Supports to help your child be able to learn, and to prevent injury and death!