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11-Year-Old Boy's Story

This account was provided by parent.
November 2008-January 2009

Nick's Story

An 11-year-old boy who has Aspergers Syndrome and anxiety started middle school in August 2008 with minimal accommodation. His parents were concerned about transition mainly because of Nick being overwhelmed by changes and sensory integration and self-regulation issues. Nick has a high sensitivity to touch and is overwhelmed in unstructured environments (e.g., Physical Education). In the elementary years, Nick was successful with 1:1 paraprofessional assistance, which helped him function successfully in a typical classroom environment.

In August 2008, Nick began showing signs of distress. His parents began insisting that Nick be provided with a paraprofessional to assist him in the regular school environment. It was decided to provide him a part-time paraprofessional, but only in electives.

Nick's parents were unaware that the seclusion room was being used at least a few times a week. No functional behavior assessment was conducted prior to implementing the use of the "time-out" (seclusion) room. They were told that Nick could access the room by choice if he needed a "safe place" to get away from the over-stimulating environment. His parents were also told that the room would be used in cases of "imminent harm" to others or himself.

In October, Nick's school called to have his mother, Shannon Von Harz, pick him up, and he was still in the seclusion room (after school hours). When she arrived, it was clear to her that he was in a full asthma attack. Although Nick's asthma is a documented medical concern, staff seemed unaware that this was an issue. As Nick struggled with breathing, staff could get into the locked nurse's office to provide Nick his inhaler.

Also in October, Nick began coming home with bruises. His parents began to question him and discovered that he was being placed in the seclusion room regularly. He was often restrained when noncompliant, which due to his sensitivity to touch, would escalate his resistance. Restraint was continued even after he exclaimed, "You're hurting me!"

Recently Nick was placed in the seclusion room for not completing a work assignment. He was restrained and forced into the seclusion room. After 1.5 hours in the room, he was released. According to documentation, it was at this point that he bit the offending staff, and was subsequently suspended. Nick states that he was frightened for ihs safety.


District Information:

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

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