Thursday, January 3, 2013


*Warning this post will make some people mad, I am just trying to show another point of view.*

Every once in a while the subject of restraints in school come up.  I don't know what is with our society that every time their is misuse everyone jumps on the ban bandwagon.  Banning everything is not the answer.  No I am not for the misuse of restraints, but when used appropriately restraints can be a valuable tool.

Yes there are bad seeds in every profession but I can tell you most teachers when properly trained on when and how to use restraint use it appropriately and as a last result.  We have all heard of the padded rooms.  What do you think when you hear padded room? Probably something like you see in the movies a small room with a door and no lights.  With the way people talk you probably also think any child in a school can be subject to the padded room as a restraint.  Actually it is quite the opposite. I used to work in a school that did have a padded room. While it was a small area probably about the size of a bathroom there was no door and a trained aide would be present at the opening.  To use the room it had to be in the IEP. No ifs ands or buts if its not in the IEP could not be used.  I have only ever seen it used for two students and sometimes they felt themselves getting angry and went there themselves.  This was not a place for punishment it was a safe place for them cool off.  Have you ever seen a child punch their hand through a plate glass window? I have it causes a lot of injuries.  When having the option of a safe place to go which the parents were 100% on board the injuries stopped.

*Disclaimer: my examples are not meant to compare to autism or a child in a school. These are real life situations I lived. *

Restraints are used in many fields but one thing is the same it is always for safety never as punishment.  I have worked as a medic where I did a lot of psych transfers.  Not all my patients needed restraints but some did. Being in a enclosed ambulance with a person having a psychotic break is dangerous not only to the patient but to myself as well.  If I get hurt I'm am useless to my patients.  We also did the prison transports every last person we took out of the prison was restrained. It was protocol. It was for public safety.

Besides working as a medic I have worked many years on a alzheimer's ward where I have had to physically take down grown men twice my size for either their safety or my own.  I have been seriously injured by patients.  One guy punched me so hard I was knocked out.  In another case our maintenance guys watched a man punch me knock me down then pick me up by my arm and drag me down the hallway.  If they had not been trained in restraining techniques my injuries could have been much worse than a broken arm.

Now think about it what if your child was in school and another child attacked them.  The reason for the attack are not necessary   But now we have banned all restraints so the staff can not jump in and help.  They have no training on how to help without everyone getting hurt. Yep pulling a child off of another is considered a restraint. Do we just let the child be attacked until the other is tired?  How about my first example of the child who was prone to punching windows. Do we just let her run around braking windows and cutting herself up? Why would we allow this to happen because we are afraid of restraints being misused.

I'm not saying restraints are never misused, sure they are.  It happens, but the answer is not a all out ban.  The answer is better training and not only for behavioral and special educators but all staff.  In my experience I needed the maintenance guys help they were the only ones available and we couldn't wait for someone else to be free to help.

Having the entire school staff trained adds a extra level of safety for everyone.  First someone other than the aide or sped teacher could witness a event, maybe the teacher is the target.  Someone else can step in. It is also protection for the child.  If everyone is trained then everyone knows how and when restraint is appropriate   If most staff are not trained they have to take the person who is trained word on it.  If everyone is trained and notice its being done wrong or inappropriately they can step in and say no this is not right stop.

So no I am not against restraints. I believe when used correctly and appropriately restraints are a valuable tool. I would not want to be on either side of the coin my child being seriously injured or my child seriously injuring someone because we as a society have made a decision based on fear and banned the use of all restraints.

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