13 June 2009

Is This Progress?

No, really. I'm not sure. Story here.

Missouri school districts will be required to draft policies regarding the use of "safe"or "recovery" rooms. The legislators in Missouri were at first thinking about using their heads and eliminating this, ahem, "option" for districts altogether, but then many parents called up and just begged them, PLEASE not to take this ability away from their schools. Please?

Hm. I'm thinking these are families who might just be concerned about their children getting police records. Elf would run or hide when he was upset. When he ran, he would run as fast as he could away from the school, and at unpredictable times. (Well, unpredictable to them. I have a feeling *I* would be able to tell, but that wouldn't be fair for me to expect the staff to know until he'd been there a good while.)

And when you have a kid who steps one tiny pinky toe off campus, did you know the principal is supposed to technically call the police? Do this enough, and your child is a truant or worse. He gets a record. Social services gets involved. Maybe better to put the kid in lockup for a minute than deal with that. (Well, either option is rather unpalatable to me, thanks. But let's pretend you're an overwhelmed parent of a special-needs kid, and this is what the school says this-or-that has to happen. What to do?)

These children are admittedly hard to teach. They take a lot more effort than you might imagine. The parents, contrary to popular misconception, CANNOT JUST get all righteously indignant when the school does this to their kid and leave in a huff. They feel stuck. Maybe you've never been in a hole that deep as a parent. But it can happen to good ones, bad ones, or just regular moms like me.

Meanwhile, voting parents of "standard issue" kids don't get it. Hey, act right and you don't have to go to the closet. "Back in the day, when you sassed the teacher you got a good wallop and I turned out all right," seems to be the argument. In fact, did you know that schools can paddle your child here and not inform you? Well, now maybe that will change with this new law. Maybe they just have to outline the sorts of infractions that result in a paddling, or a closet locking, or whatever.

That won't solve the problem of "abuse in schools." But will it help? Will outlining the rules of the game help more people play fairly? I'm not sure.

And the reason I say that is that extreme behaviour is not a constant with these children. Without consistent and helpful teaching that is mindful of their disabilities, these children will likely not do any better no matter which "system" is implemented. These children simply do not learn from "consequences on the back end" of their behaviour (no, I don't mean spanking). I mean consequences AFTER things have gone bad... the child doesn't recall the LAST "no computer for two days" consequence last time she had a meltdown when she's about to have one THIS time. Later, when she's calm, she can tell you all about what went wrong when. She can tell you when she lost it and why.

You have to think of the old saying "short fuse," in my opinion. In working with these children, the object is to very carefully, and over time, give these kids ways to make that fuse a little longer. To teach them coping mechanisms for when things aren't going well. NOT to coddle them, but also NOT to throw them into an environment that there is NO WAY the child will be successful.

From the article:

"There is no monitoring or accountability," (parent Ange) Hemmer said. "They are giving direction back to the school districts, and that has already failed. Forcing school districts to have a written policy is not going to stop the abuse."

The law requires district policies to define "restraint," "seclusion," "time-out" and other terminology. The policies must describe the circumstances under which a restrictive intervention is allowed and list specific implementation requirements such as time limits, supervision and staff training. They must specify documentation used, such as permission and notification forms.

1 comment:

  1. [Missouri school districts will be required to draft policies regarding the use of "safe"or "recovery" rooms] The fact that the school are using these rooms without a policy is frightening. When I was in nursing and we had to restrain someone we had a huge policy and a documentation tool that went with it to make sure we complied that detailed what we had tried first, how often we had to directly monitor the person, how often we checked circulation and assessed behavior and that we took the restraints off as soon as it was safe to do so. We really only used them when a patient was violent.

    Marissa was a flight risk too. In fact, she had a full time paraprofessional to help her throughout the day and make sure she didn't take off.

    You know nursing homes have these cool little monitors that the residents wear that alarm when they leave the building. I wonder if the schools could learn something from the healthcare field. Oh, it hasn't always been perfect. Patients died in restraints. They were overused. But, lawsuits and accreditation requirements have forced the industry to make safe, patient centered standards.


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