I haven't been on this particular board, but if that's okay, I just need to vent for a minute...
I have a 10 year old child with high-functioning autism. She was placed in an Emotionally Disabled classroom (a placement which I fought like crazy, but wasn't successful in changing) in the public school. Even though our school district has a good reputation for their work with autistic children in the area, they really messed up with my child.
My child's teacher was not trained at all in autism and her only method of intervention was to put my child in the time out room. I can understand if a child is in full meltdown mode and is in danger of hurting someone, then the time out room might be the safest place. This teacher, however, would put my child in the time out room for not wanting to do math or handwriting, not responding right away to directions, or when she became too upset about her specific anxieties (being afraid of bathrooms and germs, etc...). It got to the point where the time out room itself became a trigger for a full-scale meltdown.
Over the course of a few weeks, my child spent 12 hours locked up in that room. I ended up pulling my child out of the class and getting the help needed to secure a better setting for her. She did, however, suffer a significant regression socially and with her ability to manage her anxieties. It's been a horrible few months to say the least, and she has still not recovered.
I have gone to Child Protective Services, but they told me that my complaint doesn't meet the state's requirement for investigation. It's been so frustrating...
I am wondering if there are any other parents out there who have had a similar experience with their autistic child. I have found that the few people that I have explained the situation to don't really believe that something like this would happen in the school district here. It's maddening!
I'm so sorry your child has been poorly treated. Which is an understatement, I know. My heart goes out to you and your daughter. HUGS!!
My son has had a handful of teachers that have not dealt with autism, and those are the difficult years. The time when our kids need us most, because the system has failed them.
I have single handedly changed the special-ed dynamics of a school district that we formerly went to because of a bad year my son has had. I hope it saved a lot of misery for others. Though my child has not been mistreated, he certainly has been misunderstood.
You know that you are your child's best advocate. I hope she gets the education she deserves. Have they come up with a positive solution?
What did your child's caseworker have to say? There is a legal process to follow if you wanted to pursue this.
I am so sorry that you have gone through this horror. I have never heard of such a thing as a time out room that a child is locked into for any time at all. This sounds like it would violate any terms of any IEP that you would have signed and as such is illegal.
I am glad that you were able to find a new setting for your daughter as this would be unacceptable under any terms after what happened. If you feel you want to take this further, you could have a consultation with a special needs attorney.
Thank you so much for your support, sjs40 and Mira11! I really appreciate just being able to vent and have people understand.
You both mentioned going a legal route, which we have done. We opted not to go through Due Process because of the length of time it was taking. The school district took their full 45 days just to get us a copy of our child's file to even start the ball rolling. That was completely unacceptable to us. I pulled our child out of school for a while until a new "emergency plan" could be put together. Then, I did a lot of research and came up with possible intervention models, then presented them to the school. Only then did they admit that they had people who had already been trained in the particular interventions. Once those autism specialists came on board, it got better, but our child still hasn't fully recovered from the regression. It's very frustrating.
Our lawyer told us that under normal circumstances, we had a "slam-dunk" Due Process case. She told me, however, that there are several Due Process hearing officers in this state who side with the school every time and that the appeals process is significantly weighted towards the school district. We just had to weigh our options and since the school district was offering a positive change, we took the opportunity.
Right now in this state (and most other states as well), there are absolutely no laws or regulations that limit the use of the time out room or any other method of seclusion and restraint. There are also laws in place right now that protect teachers if a child is injured during any type of corporal punishment. So, either way, the school is protected in this instance. We went to the Department of Education and they just wanted to call the district and have a "chat" with the administrators prior to us filing a formal complaint - which is completely inappropriate. I think I mentioned before that CPS wouldn't do anything, either.
It's frustrating to go through the right channels to get the help needed and have those channels refuse to help. It leaves the parents with no options but to wage a very exhausting battle.
We found that the "special classes" in middle school were simply a dumping ground for kids who simply didnt want to follow school rules. The aspie kids and other kids there who needed real help were beaten up by the delinquents and neglected academically. We fought for a while, but finally had to pull her out of school and home school her. They said she had severe learning disabilities, but they just had TEACHING DISABILITIES. We pull her out and get her tested, she tested 12 grade and college level in most subjects. She does process slow... they call it profound processing issues, but it doesnt mean she cant learn as the school blatantly said. We work with a pediatric neurologiist, a psychiatrist who specializes in disorders in the autism spectrum, and a learning coach to make her curriculum tailored to her. With my own health issues its a booger to handle, but she needs it.
Others are correct, you are your child's best advocate.
I find it horrific they locked a child in a room alone! Thats WORSE for an aspie kid than a whoopin! I'd be livid... and trust me, Im mad right along with you. It burns me up what people think they can do to kids who arent neuro-typical!
I completely agree with you, mp70! We have the "dumping ground" classes in this district as well. For some reason, the teachers over these classrooms think they can discipline the autism out of our kids. And the things that my child has learned from other behavior disordered kids in the class... holy cow! Whenever she swears a blue streak at school, her current teachers think she learns it at home!
It sounds like you have a great understanding of what your daughter needs! I feel like I am on a continual learning curve and wish so much that I could go back with the knowledge that I have now and start over!
Thank you so much for reaching out to me! I can't tell you how nice it has been to talk about this situation and have others understand.