6 Things That Special Education Personnel Can Do to Decrease Restraint and Seclusion in Their School

Are you the parent of a child with autism or another disability that is very concerned about your child’s safety at school, due to negative behavior? Has your child been physically or emotionally injured by restraint and seclusion, by special education personnel? This article will discuss 6 ways that school districts can deal with behavior rather than relying on restraint and seclusion!

Restraint is defined as any manual method, physical, material, equipment that immobilizes or reduces the ability of an individual. In school districts they mainly use holding techniques. Prone restraints (where the child is held face down) are the most dangerous and cause the most incidence of injury and death!

Seclusion is defined as the placing of a person involuntarily in a room or area alone and prevent them from leaving. Some schools have started relying on time out rooms to seclude children with disabilities when they misbehave.

Below are 6 things that special education personnel in your district can do to decrease or eliminate the use of restraint and seclusion in their schools:

1. They can have school wide policies in place with specific instructions on when restraint and seclusion will be used; and also policies developed on releasing the information to the public. By keeping written charts on when it is used, and releasing the information to the public on when it is used, will actually cause restraint and seclusion to be used less. The danger comes when special education personnel keep the information secret, and refuse to share it with the public; ask your district for accountability!

2. Stop relying on punishment, restraint and seclusion to deal with children’s negative behavior. One of the important things to know is that a lot of children with disabilities have behavior that is related to their disability. Also, it is proven in research that punishment, restraint and seclusion do not work in the long term to change a child’s behavior!

3. Have good attitudes that include all children in the school; including children with disabilities! Personnel that take a positive proactive approach to school order and behavior can absolutely have a wonderful affect, on all of the children in the school. Positive attitudes encourage learning, negative attitudes discourage learning!

4. Teachers and other special education personnel need to be taught not to overreact to behavior. By appropriately dealing with negative behavior the child’s behavior may decrease, but on the other hand overreacting to the behavior, can escalate the behavior. I have seen this many times over the years; a child with autism gets upset and the teacher jumps in; gets in the child’s face and escalates (makes worse) the child’s behavior! Teachers must learn to step back and give the child time to calm themselves down!

5. Understand the huge connection between behavioral difficulty and academic difficulty. Many parents call me when their child has negative school behavior, and ask for help. I ask them: how is your child’s academics? In 100% of the cases the child is below average in all areas of academics. The child is telling the people around them: I cannot do this work, so I am going to misbehave so that I can avoid the work! Avoidance of hard academics is the cause of a lot of negative school behavior!

6. Use research based processes; positive behavioral supports and plans to deal with a child’s negative school behavior. The process starts with a Functional Behavioral Analysis (FBA) to determine what the child is getting from the negative behavior. Is it to avoid hard academics? Is it to access attention? Then a properly conducted FBA is used to develop a positive behavioral plan. This is not a punishment plan, but a plan to increase positive school behavior which then decreases negative school behavior.

Bring these 6 things to your school district and ask them to implement them for your child and other children. This will ensure that all children have a positive environment to learn; even children with disabilities!

Do I Have To Sign This Medical Release Form For Special Education Personnel?

Have you been asked by special education personnel to sign a consent form for release of your child’s medical records? Have you been told, that your child with autism or an emotional disorder cannot return to school, unless you sign a medical consent form? This article will discuss, whether parents must sign consent for release of medical records, to school personnel.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is silent, on parents being required to sign consent, for release of medical records. But just because IDEA is silent, does not mean that special education personnel have the right to require release of medical records. Medical records are considered private, and school personnel do not have any right to these records, unless you give them informed consent.

Many parents have trustingly released medical records, only to have school personnel, use these records against them or their child. Remember that some Doctors and nurses may not understand special education, and may say things that may be misinterpreted by school officials.

For Example: A 16 year old young man with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is in the Emergency room, because of behavioral difficulties (many children with TBI, due to there brain injuries have behavioral outbursts). He is interviewed in the Emergency room, by a doctor that is not well trained in people with TBI. The young man tells him, that he is in the hospital because he brought a gun to school. The doctor who has already spoke to the young man’s mother, knows that this is not true. Yet the Doctor still included this statement, in a medical record of the hospital visit.

The school district asked the mother to sign a blanket medical release form, which she did. (the mother did not understand that she had the right to refuse). Later when special education personnel kicked the young man out of school, and wanted to place him in an extremely restrictive residential placement, the mother found out about the hospital report. She was shocked and surprised that the statement was in the record. She was never asked by the Doctor if this statement was true or not. This record almost cost her son, his ability to live at home, though I was able to prove that it never happened.

At the end of the due process hearing, I asked the mother, what the one thing that I had taught her and she said: Do not give consent for release of medical records. Yah! She learned the right lesson!

If you are asked for copies of your child’s medical records, ask the special education personnel what authority they are basing their rights to medical records on (there is none). Also under HIPPA your child has the right to keep their medical records private.

If there is a specific record that school personnel want, and you are not opposed, this is how you should go about releasing the record. Tell the special education personnel that you will think about it, then get a copy of the record that they are interested in. When you get the record read it cover to cover. If you think, that the record contains important information, that would help your child and not hurt them, then you can consider giving them a copy of the record.

Under no circumstances should you give school personnel the right to blanket medical records. In my opinion, some special education personnel ask for these medical records, because they are looking for information to use against the child, or the parents.

By understanding the release of medical records, you will be able to protect your child’s privacy, and keep school personnel from using them against your child. Please remember your child is depending on you!

6 Ways To Overcome Anger At Special Education Personnel For The Good Of Your Child

Are you the parent of a child with autism that has had major conflicts, with special education personnel? Has your school district developed an IEP for your child with a severe learning disability, but refuses to follow it? Have you spent thousands of dollars trying to ensure that your child receives a free appropriate public education (FAPE)? Anger is a very common emotion that you may feel, especially if your child is denied needed educational services. This article will discuss how to turn that anger around, and use it to benefit your child’s education.

Many parents experience a lot of difficulty, when trying to get their child with a disability a free appropriate public education. In fact it is my belief that few children with disabilities in the U.S. actually receive FAPE.

Some special education personnel use tactics such as blaming the parent, in order to not have to pay for expensive special education services. A lot of anger that parents feel is justified anger. But if the anger becomes explosive, you will not be able to help your child. Use these tips to help you control your anger, to benefit your child:

1. If you are in an IEP meeting, and you feel yourself getting angry, ask for a small break. Go outside, or walk in the hallway. This will give you a chance to calm yourself down, so that you can be a more effective advocate, for your child.

2. Stand up to school personnel in an assertive manner, if they try and blame you for your child’s difficulty. You do not cause your child’s autism, or learning disability, or behavioral difficulty. This is a tactic used by many special education personnel, and sometimes catch a parent off guard.

If you do not stand up to the personnel blaming you, your anger may get the best of you. Remember that being assertive means staying as calm as possible, but working toward getting your child the services they need.

3. Focus on what educational and related services that your child needs. Bring a list of items that you would like to discuss, and check them off as you discuss them. Write down what you are promised for your child, and make sure that it is written in your child’s IEP. By focusing on your child, you will be less likely to get angry.

4. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Use this strategy, when special education personnel try and change the subject, when you are asking for needed educational services for your child. For Example: We were discussing my child’s need for Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), please stop changing the subject and address this issue. This strategy works; refuse to move the discussion along until the important issues are discussed.

5. Bring a friend or advocate with you to any meetings that you are concerned may become adversarial. Also consider tape recording, special education personnel are often careful of what they say when it is being tape recorded.

6. If you find yourself getting angry over a dispute; write a letter to special education personnel. In the letter, clearly state what the dispute is; stick to facts, keep emotion out. By writing a letter you will decrease your chances of letting your anger overtake you.

By using these easy strategies you will be able to keep your anger in check, as you advocate for an appropriate education for your child. Good Luck in your advocacy journey, remember you are not alone!