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National Autism Association Teams Up With 12 Organizations to End Abusive Restraint and Seclusion in Schools
Date:6/26/2009

NIXA, Mo., June 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Autism Association (NAA) along with 12 other organizations launched a campaign this week to spur letter writing and raise awareness about dangerous restraint and seclusion practices in schools. The initiative comes on the heels of the May 19th GAO Report that revealed no federal laws regulating restraint and seclusion in schools, no laws in 19 states, and "widely divergent" laws in remaining states.

It also investigated cases where two children died from "mechanical compression to the chest" and being "smothered to death," one died from restraint following a seizure, another died from hanging himself in a seclusion room. Other cases included a four-year-old girl who was tied to a chair and abused, five children who were duct-taped to their desks, and a ten-year-old boy who was put in a seclusion room "75 times over a 6-month period for hours at a time for offenses such as whistling, slouching and hand-waving."

The report only adds to stories around the country of disabled children being handcuffed, locked in closets and bathrooms, and restrained with chemicals and lemon spray. "These are essentially torture tactics that are outlawed for terrorists, but children with autism and other disabilities have no federal regulations in place protecting them," says Wendy Fournier of NAA. "We're not speaking of all teachers - but we do need to protect children from the ones who are putting them in danger."

This week, the group launched an ad campaign with headlines that called handcuffs "the new circle time, and "when our disabled children can't figure out how to sit still, more schools are showing them the ropes." They're asking lawmakers to ban dangerous restraint and seclusion and enforce proper training, ample reporting, and better monitoring.

Empowering parents is also key. "Thanks to organizations like APRAIS and Families Against Restraint and Seclusion, parents are armed with information and can download a sample 'no consent' form to give to their schools," says Rita Shreffler of NAA. To download the letter and take action, visit www.nationalautism.org.


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SOURCE National Autism Association
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