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Restraint of special needs children in Public Schools

May 19, 2009

In response to the headlines this morning on NPR, and the televised news regarding behavioral restraint of special needs children in schools, I found this letter, dated from 2007, from the superintendent of schools in Wisconsin in response to inappropriate use found upon inspection. Letter to Racine Unified School District – Rifton Chair Corrective Actions.

I must say, that my own reaction to the headlines this morning is gut wrenching. My own daughter was placed in rifton chairs when she was in the public school program, and the teachers tried to assure me that it was perfectly safe and normal to place her in the chairs. They were using them as a means to keep my daughter in one place while they tried to practice their so-called therapy objectives, i.e. motor skills, such as puzzles, etc.

Well, again, in addition to what I’ve said in the past week about my daughter’s progress since she’s been attending her private academy, the academy she currently attends doesn’t own rifton chairs, nor do they need to because they teach these autistic, hyper-wild children HOW TO SIT at a table. Imagine that. (that’s with a sarcastic slur). Yes, my daughter. Who, a year ago was incapable of sitting at a table to work, is now doing just that! Why? Because the school she is at has taught her how.

I suppose as a parent of a child with developmental disabilities, it just really breaks my heart when I hear news stories about children with ADD or ADHD or Autism being treated as a behavioral PROBLEM, and not giving them the dignity that they deserve. If an autistic child is having a meltdown at school, putting them in handcuffs is futile and close to abusive, (if not abusive.) And the next time, that child is going to remember, just like a victim of abuse, and the next meltdown at school could potentially be worse.

I just think that as a whole, our communities need to work on learning how to handle, teach, mold, love, tolerate children with developmental disabilities, or behavioral disabilities. We might get farther if Jenny McCarthy shut up about vaccines (yikes, that sounded harsh, I apologize if I offend but I am so gosh darn tired of hearing CAN/DAN, and anti-vaccine preaching) and started teaching school districts and general public how to teach the autistic children we already have.

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