Seclusion, Restraint and the Public School System — 5 Minutes for Special Needs

Seclusion, Restraint and the Public School System

by Tammy and Parker


From My File of Things That Make Me See Red:

I’m the mother of a medically fragile child with special needs. This kid has spent many an hour circling the drain.

As a matter of fact, I writing this post from his hospital room after a very unexpected surgery on Sunday.

The bottom line is my child has had to fight simply for the right to breathe. Yet he still gets up each day with a wonder and curiosity that can bring my spirit to it’s knees on a fairly regular basis.

Obviously, not everyone is able to see the miracle that resides inside of my son.

Case in point from the NDRN’s Investigative Report January 2009-

Whenever we open a newspaper, turn on the television, or go on the internet these days we hear of another child dying or being injured in school while being restrained or secluded. Some may think these are isolated incidents, but, when Protection and Advocacy (P&A) agencies across this country report that school children have been killed, confined, tied up, pinned down, and battered, this is clearly more than an isolated issue – it is one of national concern.

Read the entire report here.

Another CNN report dealing with this topic: “Children Forced into Cell-Like Seclusion Rooms”

Let’s open a discussion on this topic.

  • What have been your experiences with discipline within the public school system? What is working? What isn’t?
  • How do you think a child with disabilities can best be attended to in a situation where the child may become a threat to himself or others.

Let’s share what’s working for you, as well as what’s not. And what you would like to see change.

Tammy and Parker can also be found hanging out at their other blog: Praying For Parker, as well as on Twitter where they go by ParkerMama.

Email Author    |    Website About Tammy and Parker

I am the mother of 5 wonderful kids. My youngest, Parker, is a medically fragile blessing with Down's Syndrome. I am @ParkerMama on Twitter.

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1 Lisa January 14, 2009 at 4:10 pm

Oh my God!
I have had my child restrained and segrated..but never to that extreme.
They have left finger print bruises once..and lots of bruising from himself..
He’s been put in the sensory room..aka BATHROOM..
and allowed to sleep there..
but now..due to my very good advocating..and lots of complaining..the room has been that the sensory room and washroom are two different rooms.

2 PeytonsMom January 14, 2009 at 8:15 pm

OMG, Tammy…this breaks my heart and also makes me pissed!

3 Terri Grabb January 14, 2009 at 10:29 pm

I worked for our school district and was one of the teachers that did restrain and place children in the rooms. The school was a special school for SEVERE emotionally disturbed children that were there for their safety and for the safety of others. We are taught how to escort and how to restrain a child without causing them harm. We would rather harm ourselves than the child. Our goal is that the child not enter into the room. First they are brought into the time out room with a social worker and team worker. We first try to work through the problem and get them back into the classroom. Yet, if they continue to be violent then they are taken into the room that as they called it a padded cell. We rarely used the room as it was the very last resort. This was the last stop in the system before these children were placed in a locked facility.

Our public school system has the same policy overall. Yet, do not train or teach the restraint techniques unless they are working within that school or center.

I did finally read the entire article. I can only give my small piece of experience here. We have and always do take the time out rooms very seriously. They are NEVER alone in these rooms. It is our goal to help them get them back into the classroom safely and not be a threat to themselves.

That being said I don’t believe that all school districts use the rooms properly and in a manner that is safe. Our district is very strict about safety first for the child and the instructors. We have to be retrained each year to continue in the district on safely restraining and the use of safely using the quiet room.

This is just my personal experience and in aving worked with children that were very unstable. One thing that I was suprised was not mentioned in many schools and centers that have quiet rooms also have a staffed police officer as well. They are not in uniform but are not a part of the school district. There job is strictly to maintain safety within the school for the children since they were unstable.

I love the kids I work with and I have a ton of respect for those I worked with they LOVED these kids.


4 Amy of Bunny Rose Cottage January 15, 2009 at 2:25 pm

Tammy, I saw on Dr. Phil a couple weeks ago about a little girl that was autistic. When she was “uncooperative” the teachers put her in a room alone ALL day! She soiled herself and everything and they just let her sit in it. They would bring her in her lunch a that was it. It was so heartbreaking and made me so mad. It also scared me! How can they do this to children?

5 Deborah January 15, 2009 at 2:50 pm

Tammy, this is one of those issues that just sends me over the edge. I have written several times on my blog about this (here’s the latest and included is a link to a great NY Times story on the subject), and unfortunately have been witness to the practice of restraint and seclusion.

That is the precise reason my attorney’s phone number is on speed dial on my cell phone…

6 mum2brady January 15, 2009 at 9:13 pm

Tammy – I think this is definitely an important subject as I believe that with more and more children with special needs in included classrooms that REGULAR education teachers need some training.

There are tiers to positive behavioral supports, with physical restraint and segregation at the very top of the spectrum and only to be used if other methods don’t work and ONLY with parental permission and sign-off. But, I believe that these things go on all the time without the parent knowing they are happening, and it’s easy to do, especially with non-verbal children, or those that are verbal but cannot express their thoughts as well. The intellectually disabled are actually a very vulnerable population, and the statistics I’ve read show that 90% of our kids will be abused in some way during their lifetimes – many more than once.

I have tried my hardest to keep Brady from becoming a statistic, and yet, through no real fault or intentional action on his own, I believe he became one of those statistics earlier this school year when his kindergarten teacher was excessively physical with him and hurt him. What did she get for that excessive use of force for a minor infraction on his part – a small talking to from the principal and that’s it. She has since been unkind once more, and I could tell from the way Brady acted when he came home from school. Of course he couldn’t tell me what happened, but he was so upset. I think that she feels that it doesn’t matter what she does to him, since he can’t tell me, and if it came down to his word against hers, he doesn’t have the words to accuse her. I think this puts our kids in a very precarious position. They are very vulnerable, and the people who are entrusted to their care, do not always have their best interests at heart.

That being said, I do have two friends that are aides and they are wonderful and love the children they serve – but – I have witnessed others that are less than kind and listened to them talk about and bash the children they serve and it made me sick to my stomach.

We, as parents, have to be very careful and very on top of things at all times to best protect our kids. I’ve learned that with Brady’s education, I’m best served to have a VERY active and present role, as that makes all the difference. And, if I don’t, things just don’t get done. A good teacher and administration can make all the difference too – but – I’m sure you know that from experience 🙂

Hugs to you and Parky, and I’d love to know what you find out in your research……

him back to her classroom.

7 Mary January 16, 2009 at 9:37 pm

My two sons are both high yield autistic and the oldest was treated as a behavior problem from 1st grade to 7th.He was placed in a 4×4 cement cell with a steel door that locked electronically and could only be opened from the outside.I have found him in there several times when there was no one in the room. I did not know that I didn’t have to accept this at the time.Eventually I took him out of this school system and began homeschooling but there is massive damage that I may never be able to repair.When they said they planned the same thing for my youngest son I threatened to sue and thats when I found out that we have a autism class that deals only with autistic kids.My baby is now doing as well and some times better than his brother who is 2x his age. Stand up to the schools and make them do better!our kids have rights too.

8 ange February 13, 2009 at 2:32 pm

My son’s story is here:

Trying to make a difference…

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