Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Brave New Education

Yesterday, the GAO Education Committee held a hearing on Examining the Abusive and Deadly Use of Seclusion and Restraint in Schools. I watched with bated breath. Our story was one of the hundreds that congress was hearing about for the first time. Thanks to grassroots efforts by a bunch of angry parents in a Yahoo Group someone was finally listening. COPAA, The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates created a document for the committee.
UNSAFE IN THE SCHOOLHOUSE: ABUSE OF CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES
Our case is #C26
Between kindergarten and first grade, the student was regularly put in seclusion as a result of "behavior" issues, sometimes for hours. There was no positive behavior plan in place, and IEP accommodations were not implemented in classroom. In first grade, he was routinely restrained by 1-3 adults and placed in seclusion-- multiple times per month. At one time, when the seclusion room was occupied, the 6-year-old was pushed face first into a bean bag chair by the aide. Student was also restrained for not behaving in seclusion, coming home with bruises. School routinely ignored therapist's advice that child receive routine sensory breaks as part of a systematic behavior plan.
That's the really abbreviated version. Much much more abuse happened - both psychological and physical. And now nearly 3 years later, our son who has Asperger's Syndrome is starting to remember. The memories are Tsunamis in his brain.

The outcome of the hearing will have little direct effect on us. Our son now has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder added onto his seemingly endless list of medical and psychological diagnoses. But I push on to advocate for the thousands of children this is happening to right now - right here - in the great USA. Where animals and criminals are treated better than children.

Yet I do feel a small sense of validation. There are others. We are not alone. And perhaps that should help me feel better. But because the common bond we share is crisis, I am only saddened. There are thousands of children abused by the hands of those we "legally" must entrust our children to everyday. And despite the possibility of stricter laws, I critically question whether any legislation will prevent school abuse. There are already laws that make child abuse illegal. It's the lack of enforcement or consequences to public agencies that lets it continue behind closed doors.

These children have lost their innocence, childhood and lives in a system gone terribly wrong. I thank God he was not one of the many children who were murdered by the system.

But I keep on advocating. There is much much more work to be done.

1 comment:

konnie said...

Interesting post. I agree with you totally. On another aspect, my take is that asperger's syndrome during the early stages should be attended and no parent should ever forget that.