Report finds Connecticut students with autism most targeted for restraint and seclusion used

Autism and AbuseConnecticut, State Department of Education – A new report finds that there were more than 33,000 incidents of physical restraint or seclusion in public schools and private special education programs in Connecticut.

The report found that children with autism were the most frequently subjected to restraint or seclusion in Connecticut schools during 2012-13. It was found that 40.4 percent of all incidents involved a child with autism and that nearly half of all cases in which children were put in seclusion were on the autistic spectrum.

The New Haven Register states that the number of serious injuries rose from 8 to 10.

Shannon Knall, policy chair of the Connecticut chapter of Autism Speaks said:

“The numbers of children with autism are skyrocketing, and I think our school districts are just overwhelmed,” she added. “The people on the front lines need training and tools” in alternative behavior management. “If you only give someone a hammer and a nail, that’s all they’re going to use.”

A coalition of 8 state agencies, including the Office of the Child Advocate and Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities, are beginning a public education campaign to reduce unnecessary restraints and seclusion in schools.

Sarah Eagan, the state’s child advocate, said:

“What we have to remember is that the use of restraints and seclusion (for behavior management) has no research to support it. We’re really going to have to support schools and teachers with resources and tools so they can find a better way”

The New Haven Register reports that Connecticut state law allows the use of restraints and seclusion in emergencies that pose imminent danger to a student or others.

Schools reported that 71 percent of restraints and seclusions were in response to a child being at risk of harm. It also reported that in many cases, individual children were restrained and secluded multiple times throughout the year.

The study also shows that the majority of restraints and seclusions lasted 20 minutes or less.

The co-chairs of the legislature’s Committee on Children, Sen. Dante Bartolomeo and Rep. Diana Urban, have both expressed concerns about unnecessary use of restraints and seclusion.
Last year, leaders of these two agencies called for an end to the use of restraints and seclusion as behavioural interventions in schools.

You can read the full story in the New Haven Register by Lisa Chedekel here under a partnership with the Connecticut Health I-Team (www.c-hit.org).

Autism Daily Newscast reported last September about a school in Portand, Oregon that had a seclusion room, even though there was a law to remove such rooms. In August of last year we did a featured article on how to avoid abuse of special needs students in the classroom.