Apparently this is not illegal even in a state that does regulate restraint and seclusion...
National Autism Association (NAA) Says Vinegar-Soaked Cotton Balls in Disabled Students' Mouths Underscores Need for 'Aversives' Ban
Tuesday, Sep. 27, 2011
KATY, Texas, Sept. 27, 2011 -- /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Monday night, in an effort to demonstrate inhumane practices known as "aversives" happening in special-ed classrooms across the county, school district officials in Texas were asked to insert vinegar-soaked cotton balls into their mouths. The request came from advocate and NAA board member Leslie Phillips following multiple reports from local parents who say their children attending Exley Elementary school in Katy were force-fed cotton balls soaked with vinegar as a form of discipline. "There were no takers to the request," said Phillips.
According to parents, Exley students, some of whom are nonverbal, were sometimes forced to get on a classroom treadmill, ostensibly there for exercise breaks and forced to go faster or longer than they wanted. In addition, cotton balls saturated with vinegar were placed into their mouths to control behavior. Parents say they were told certain "procedures" had been used on their children without their knowledge or consent, and the district would address the issue. Exley Elementary School Principal Imelda Medrano used only vague references, saying, "a treadmill was used" and "vinegar was introduced."
Parents Carol and Bill Rutar said they were dumbfounded to learn these strategies were not illegal. "If I were to attempt to force an adult to do something like this, I would be arrested and charged with assault and battery. Further, if this happened to a student in a general education setting, there would be public outrage. It's precisely the type of bullying behavior between students that is the focus of national attention and expressly prohibited," said Carol Rutar.
Parents still await information from the investigation, conducted by the district's own police department who has confirmed the matter has been handed over to the District Attorney.
Aversive interventions tantamount to child abuse are being used in many schools across the country. "Withholding food and water, lemon spray to the eyes, force feeding, sensory exploitation, shaving cream to the mouth, peppers to the mouth – these are just some of the assaults that have been used on schoolchildren as a failed means to control behavior," says Lori McIlwain, executive director of NAA. "Positive behavioral interventions have been proven successful, there is no excuse for aversives in our schools."
Phillips, who spoke with a Texas Education Agency official about the case, was told that while Texas is one of few states that regulates seclusion and restraint in public schools, "... there is no law that says aversive interventions are or are not legal in Texas."
The advocate hopes school principals nationwide will take positive action. "My message to principals is this: if aversive interventions are happening in your schools, you should act to stop it. Positive support training is needed, and law or no law, aversives are abusive and dehumanizing. They should be banned in your school."
For more information, please visit nationalautism.org and autismsafety.org.
Contact:Leslie Phillips (Katy, TX) 281-573-2793Lori McIlwain (Cary, NC) 919-741-1646
Parent comment on the article:
Dear National Austim Assoc.
I just read your article on what special kids were put through in Texas schools. That is so wrong. I just wanted to let you know that I live in Arizona and it is not much better here. My son attended a special needs program, they told he was delayed but missed the autism and hearing impairment.
Once our son started the program we could not figure out why he just flipped out every time we dropped him off, we thought we were doing the right thing for him, having no idea what was going on. Finally, after about three months of this strange attitude from him, we asked one of the aides and she was very nervous to talk and tell us what was going on, we found out that our son was being locked in a closet in the dark and that this was a learning technique that was acceptable to this school. When we spoke to the school about this , the school supported the teacher and her learning technique.
Only our son who is now almost 16yrs old (was 3 at the time) cannot be in the dark, and doesn't like women , except mom, grandma and his sister. If we would have done this to our son, they would call it abuse. How can school get away with this? We really hope you are able to help this school in Texas and be able to protect those children, maybe when your done you can come to Arizona and help these kids. We started homeschooling after that!
Our family hopes that you really can make a difference for those children. That is not right for a child to be scared like that, or harmed like that either. It is abuse, and neglect, hopefully they all lose their jobs. They would not want someone to treat their children like that.
May God Bless you,
The Bryant family
Volunteer Co-Webmaster, http://www.ourchildrenleftbehind.com (IDEA reauthorization)