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6-Year-Old Boy's Story

2006

Zach's Story

My name is Ange and this part of my son's story regarding seclusion and restraint.

(You can see Zach's video at the left here. You may wish to pause the video at bottom left of player until it is completely finished buffering.)

Zach has been diagnosed with Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum (the part of the brain that connects the two hemispheres did not develop) and PDD-NOS. He has been receiving special education services in the local school district since the age of 3 years old (educational diagnosis of Other Health Impaired).

During Zach’s transition from Early Childhood to Kindergarten, much information was shared from preschool teachers and parents regarding Zach’s strengths and weaknesses, successful interventions, and continuing concerns. Data was shared regarding Zach’s ability to perform independently in the Kindergarten environment.

Zach is able to develop decent compensation skills, but a manifestation of his disability is inconsistent performance, one of the reasons explosive and aggressive behaviors were problematic. Although a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) was verbally requested by myself at his Transition meeting, no FBA was conducted prior to the discussion of a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP). Several notes were jotted down on a BIP form, and eventually became Zach’s official BIP in his IEP, which was inadequate to help him with the behaviors he was exhibiting. Zach started Kindergarten in July 2005.

In August 2005, a research opportunity was made available to us through the school district, and an FBA was part of this research project. However, since this was a research opportunity, the evaluation was not held to the same timelines required by IDEA. In December 2005, as Zach’s behavior continued to escalate without proper support, I requested a district performed FBA. It was discussed that the research FBA was almost done, so I agreed not to duplicate efforts.

In February 2006, the finalized FBA was shared and a detailed BIP was written. It was at this time that the seclusion room was added as a “crisis intervention.” (The person who conducted the FBA had left the meeting before the creation of the crisis plan.)

The seclusion room was added with much trepidation by me and my husband. Zach was struggling with the transition to Kindergarten, and my husband and I believed much of his concerning behaviors could have been prevented or reduced by our earlier concerns and data being taken seriously and the proper interventions being implemented before he reached this crisis mode. But because of the IEP team’s concern of the possibility of hurting himself or someone else, and my husband and my concerns about suspension (we were both working full-time jobs at the time), we agreed to the placement of the seclusion room as a crisis intervention.

We specifically discussed that the room was not to be used as punishment or as a threat. My husband and I believed that the seclusion room would not be used except in the case of imminent danger. We would regret that decision forever, but at the time felt overwhelmed, confused, trapped, and desperate.

According to the documentation provided, the seclusion room was used seven times, several times as a first line intervention rather than in a crisis situation (i.e., squeezing a staff member’s hand). The antecedent data (what happened before the incident) was not recorded and how Zach was escorted to the seclusion room was not documented. On one document, it did not list what Zach did to be placed in the seclusion room and he was placed in there quietly and remained quiet until he was released after a duration of 18 minutes. The longest recorded time he stayed in the seclusion room was approximately 40 to 50 minutes.

During this time, Zach’s regular teacher was on maternity leave, his paraprofessionals were frequently changed. Minimal support was given to Zach to assist him in learning how to self-regulate. He did not understand the cause and effect consequences of his actions and was very emotional and upset when placed in the seclusion room. It is our opinion that the room was used as punishment and not in a times of extreme safety concern.

The room was finally removed from his plan after a request in writing. He was placed in the seclusion room one more time after that request was acknowledged.

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District Information:

Assessed Valuation: $2,407,289,409
Total Enrollment: 22,092

6 comments:

MADD said...

You did an excellent job on this video. Thank you for coming forward, telling your story & sharing it with the world!

Anna, Florida

Kathy said...

I am outraged! How maddening that this is allowed to be written into IEP's. I am all for protecting the vulnerable in dangerous situations, but this just illustrates the opportunities for abuse that exist in our shcools!

Fan said...

I have been an advocate for 22 years and such occurrences are not new for me. Your story is one of many happening across the country. Seclusion and restraint was first introduced into the school setting around 1997. I was aware then that this method would be a detriment to our special needs children. That is why it is very important for parents to do their homework regarding transitional changes in the IEP and any additional accommodations; especially those relating to behavior.

If not done correctly the results can be devastating to the child; bad emotional experiences are difficult to correct. Anytime physical contact is to be made with your child or seclusion be sure there is no injury to their "emotional quotient" and 'physical well being'. The amount of time used should not be excessive as it was for you son. Put the specifics in writing (copies to all) for all that come in contact with your child; clear strategies to use for interventions. Also specific intervention techniques are to be spelled out in detail.

At some point you need to have someone a family member or close friend, do an in person to observe; how the specifics are being implemented. Follow-up is so important and written progress reports are one way to tweak, and monitor the process if needed.

Again, I encourage parents to KNOW their child from their favorite color to what gives them goose-bumps. For you are the only ones at the meeting that really know your child, and what things trigger their aggressive behavior.

Lastly, I suggest that is you have had unfavorable results from IEP meetings, a well seasoned advocate with full knowledge of “special education law” is you best decision.

I wish all of you the best.

Fan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ange said...

We have had numerous people involved, advocates, consultants, doctors, DESE, etc. But when push comes to shove, unless we go to due process, we can't get any further. FYI, our district now has a policy (in writing) that does not allow outside consultants to observe and parents are limited to 4 hours. I do plan on pursuing this issue as well.

Krista said...

I am interested in utilizing information from this story in my line of research. I am a Ph.D. student in exceptional education. Could you please provide details on this event (e.g. what city, state, district, school)? In order to utilize your story I need to verify it's occurance. Thank you in advance-
Krista