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Handcuffing children with special needs?


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  #1  
September 4th, 2011, 06:18 PM
femketje's Avatar Crazed Country Rebel
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Police take autistic boy to hospital in handcuffs - KDVR

Appropriate or inappropriate?

My two cents as being a parent of a child with ASD, there are ways of maintain control of a situation where a child with unique needs may get out of control. I believe that with the appropriate training and education, teachers, police officers, principals and parents would have the tools to defuse this kind of situation. Ten police officers to restrain any child is not necessary.
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  #2  
September 4th, 2011, 06:27 PM
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If you are totally out of control, then I think it is appropriate. I'm going out on a limb and assuming the school officials and police aren't idiots and tried other means first. But if he is hurting himself or others (or about to), I stand by their decision.
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  #3  
September 4th, 2011, 06:47 PM
plan4fate's Avatar I may bend, but not break
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I don't know how to answer this. I've known 8 years olds who have been restrained with straps, cuffs, etc while at school because they were a danger to themselves and to others. Their parents were aware of it being done, and restraints were provided by them. But that's because the child was the same way at home. (this child also has a dog attached to his waist any time he's not in his parents sight because he has a history of running off.. he's a severe case of autism)


with the information provided, this child was treated like a criminal, when he was not one. No child should ever have to ride in the back of the cop car like a criminal. Once his mother arrived, it should have been dealt through her. If he needed to go to the hospital for an eval, he should have gone in an ambulance if he had to be taken there by a professional.

I think that someone didn't put him in his seat like they should have, and then passed the blame off on the child. If the people around him can't make sure the proper things are done to keep him and everyone else safe, how can they blame him for something he cannot prevent from happening?
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  #4  
September 4th, 2011, 06:56 PM
Poncho06's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
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Not enough there for me to say either way. General protocol is least restrictive means prior to physical contact. If the boy was escalating under physical restraint or if the school did not have adequately trained staff to perform a restraint then the police should have been called. Handcuffs are what I assume are the police protocol, though I'm not 100% sure, but I'm assuming they would want as little physical contact as possible and generally do not do long period behavior modification restraints.

Without knowing the specifics as to why the hold was placed I can't say if I agree or not. There are action, phrases or intent that make it mandatory to start the process and once started cannot be stopped unless evaluated by a physician and discharged.
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  #5  
September 4th, 2011, 10:36 PM
rose198172's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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The child had a change in routine (not being seated in the special seat he was usually placed in). That will set off almost EVERY autistic child out there, regardless of where they lie on the spectrum.

Even the mother concedes that it is fine for them to have needed to restrain him initially, but once he was calmed down, there is NO need for restraints. Most autistic kids are going to have their meltdown and then be calm once it's over. Now this is just anecdotal, but I have yet to meet a child on the spectrum who, once the meltdown is over, is let go (or whatever the caretaker is doing to restrain them) and goes right back into meltdown mode. I'm sure it can happen, but I doubt that there was a gigantic chance of it happening here.

Why in the world could he not have been released to his MOTHER when she arrived? And if he needed to be evaluated for mental health, why in the world wouldn't his regular therapist have been called?

I just want more details to this story. In most cases, I think that physically restraining a child on the autism spectrum tends to increase their anxiety and sensory overload. Sometimes it has to happen in order to not injure themselves or others, but I think that once this kid had his meltdown and calmed down, he should have been released to the care of his mother. I just think this was handled incorrectly.

ETA: I agree with Ashley. Someone (most likely whoever was driving the bus/was an aide on the bus) didn't do their job correctly, and child wasn't warned of this happening and likely didn't know what to do. He had what is essentially an anxiety attack and was treated like a criminal instead of a child with a disability. Doesn't sound like they did much to "accommodate" him.
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Last edited by rose198172; September 4th, 2011 at 10:39 PM.
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  #6  
September 5th, 2011, 12:18 AM
rose198172's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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A little more information:

Johnson: Parents concerned by handcuffing of autistic boy - The Denver Post
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  #7  
September 5th, 2011, 07:48 AM
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Ya that only opened more questions for me. It seems, from his subsequent 2 1/2 stay in the hospital that there was more going on with him than one outburst. I highly doubt that the hospital would give him a bed for that period of time without there being an emergency type behavioral issue, especially in a hospital that only has 4 childrens beds.

Not saying that all those professionals from different agencies couldn't have overreacted but my experience in working in a psych hospital setting is that more often than not patients are released into outpatient care unless they are presenting an imminent danger to themselves or others. Resources were triaged because there simply were not enough to go around.
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  #8  
September 5th, 2011, 12:41 PM
plan4fate's Avatar I may bend, but not break
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Quote:
This does not surprise me at all. As a parent of an autistic child who was, at one time, enrolled in Jefferson County Schools until he graduated, I had to watch in horror as my son was mistreated time and again. I learned quickly not to fight as they would simply take it out on him, so I had to become quietly proactive. And the things he was suspended for! Throwing grass in the air-yes, I'm not making it up, he was suspended 5 days for that when he was in elementary school, no, he was not throwing it at people (at least that I could have understood), in high school he was suspended for drawing a 'menacing black spider'. All in all, he would end up suspended 80 times in his years at school.. Funny thing, only once was that for a physical altercation. My son didn't get in fist fights as that requires knowing social cues, which he does not. Basically, in the end, his suspensions were for being socially awkward which made him an excellent scapegoat for teachers and students alike. He did graduate, but it was a fight that I had to fight every single day. My heart goes out to these parents, I was single and raising two, I didn't have the know-how to stand up against the system, but I did help him to graduate. If these parents present a united front, maybe their son won't have the hard time mine

Read more: Johnson: Parents concerned by handcuffing of autistic boy - The Denver Post Johnson: Parents concerned by handcuffing of autistic boy - The Denver Post
Read The Denver Post's Terms of Use of its content: Terms of Use - The Denver Post
that was one of the comments. Same school district, different kid.

It almost makes me think that there is a lot more to the story and the school is not doing these children justice PERIOD. Unless the parents lie of course.


Makes me so glad (and yet sad) that this city has fantastic support for children even if you have to switch schools sometimes to get the care you need for your child.
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  #9  
September 5th, 2011, 12:58 PM
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In this state, it's unlawful to restrain a child (with straps, handcuffs) or other patient without a clear threat of physical danger. Obviously there was something going on to prompt them to restrain this child with the consent of the mother. Without knowing a full history, not just stories in the papers/news (I've seen these, because they're in my area), I wouldn't say "no way" just yet.

I have once had to restrain a child (but just with my arms and legs when he was throwing chairs, kicking, biting me and out of control). I had infants in care, and had to immediately put them in a separate playpen in another room to deal with him because he could have hurt someone. I will tell you, he was 4 yo at the time and OMG he was STRONG! When he was that angry, something about that adrenaline rush made him seem like Hercules. It took about 10 minutes to calm him with him in a bear hug and my legs holding down his so he'd stop kicking me, then he tired out and was fine (He had some special needs). I never knew what triggered his outburst, I did know that the parents told me the preschools had issues with him and other daycares had kicked him out. He just snapped. I remember very clearly he was just playing and out of nowhere, started screaming and acting out.

After this, I established a strict routine and never had another severe outburst like that again. In fact, he was one of the most helpful, loving little children I'd ever had. It was a matter of getting him under control first and then also showing him *I* was NOT going to kick him out. He stayed almost 5 years. (Then moved to TX )
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  #10  
September 6th, 2011, 02:27 AM
rose198172's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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I think the question was whether it was acceptable to handcuff a child with special needs, not necessarily whether it was ok to restrain a child with special needs. There are many ways of restraining a child if they are a threat that DOESN'T involve the use of handcuffs and being carted off in a squad car.

To me, the biggest failure was on the part of the paraprofessional, who was supposedly on the bus to aid if need be, in regards to him staying in his harness. Clearly she didn't do that. Had she done that, I'm about 99% sure that none of this would have happened. Do I think the child should have been restrained at some point? Yup, absolutely, but not handcuffed and taken away.

There are plenty of things that are against the law that are still done in schools. There have been many stories of special needs children who were left in rooms, not permitted to use the restroom for hours, who were restrained illegally, who had the police called on them unnecessarily. I'm not saying that it's always the case that school officials jump the gun, but I wouldn't say that I know for sure that it wouldn't EVER happen where I lived because I knew what the law was.

An interesting article on abuse of kids with special needs in schools: Abuse of Special Needs Children in our Public Schools - Abuse
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Last edited by rose198172; September 6th, 2011 at 02:36 AM.
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  #11  
September 6th, 2011, 09:11 AM
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There is defiantly a breakdown somewhere. Not sure if it was with the para or with the school itself not having adequate monitors on the bus.

The para may not have been able to do a 1 person restraint. The laws vary from state to state for example I am trained and authorized to do a 1 person hold in NJ but there are no approved 1 person restraints in MA, they are 2 person minimum. If I had done a 1 person restraint in MA I would most likely loose my job, open myself up to suits as well as fines could be assessed.

Either way the school system and state needs to look at their guidelines such as if the driver is considered in their minimum staffing requirements, they really never should be IMO.
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  #12  
September 6th, 2011, 02:14 PM
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On my kids' bus, there was only 1 monitor and 1 driver. The 1 monitor was responsible for ensuring the safety of all the kids, the driver (and driving situation), and she did have permission to do 1 person restraint. Additionally, the driver, if in a safe enough area, CAN pull over to assist, but it's not the primary responsibility of the driver. Also, the district we're in has a 30 minute route (total per driver) for the drivers because many kids cannot sit that long . Right now, in the PM class, there's one driver and only 2 kids on the bus so just one route. Last year, the PM clas had 22 (including my 2) who rode the buses and did have the assistance of an extra aide. There was also a second driver (so there was only 11 students on each bus to meet that 1/2 hour rule)
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  #13  
September 6th, 2011, 02:19 PM
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Do you happen to know what training program is used there? I'm a trainer for a few different behavior management programs and am curious what one(s) are used out there.

I also have to say I disagree with a driver EVER being part of the behavior management team although I know agencies and states get around hiring the extra person all the time by adding a driver into the count. Horrible unsafe and never leaves an extra person to monitor the other people or leave a person to call for additional assistance when needed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GSLynn View Post
On my kids' bus, there was only 1 monitor and 1 driver. The 1 monitor was responsible for ensuring the safety of all the kids, the driver (and driving situation), and she did have permission to do 1 person restraint. Additionally, the driver, if in a safe enough area, CAN pull over to assist, but it's not the primary responsibility of the driver. Also, the district we're in has a 30 minute route (total per driver) for the drivers because many kids cannot sit that long . Right now, in the PM class, there's one driver and only 2 kids on the bus so just one route. Last year, the PM clas had 22 (including my 2) who rode the buses and did have the assistance of an extra aide. There was also a second driver (so there was only 11 students on each bus to meet that 1/2 hour rule)
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