Managing Editor's Note: From our friends at National Autism Association who are always looking out for the health, well being and safety of our children, whether tots or adults. Read their white paper, Behind Closed Doors: What’s Happening to Students With Autism in America’s Public Schools? The case for cameras in self-contained classrooms. Many of you will recall that it was cameras on the school bus that proved that the bus aide was harming my daughter Bella and lead to an arrest and conviction. From the NAA Blog:
We need your help.
The National Autism Association has been the leading national organization addressing the critical safety needs of children most severely affected. We’ve made progress on some issues, such as wandering-related initiatives. Now, we need to tackle the problem of student abuse.
At NAA, we follow trends via daily news alerts to see if problems facing families affected by autism are on the rise. In our view, the number of reports of students being subjected to abuse, particularly in isolated self-contained classrooms, highlights a growing area of grave concern.
The issue suddenly became front-burner in south Texas about two years ago when Fox News 26 special projects reporter Greg Groogan began reporting on this dangerous trend. An award winning journalist and the father of an affected child, Greg has documented more than half a dozen confirmed cases of abuse in the Houston area alone in that timeframe.
These reports include:
- A ten-year old with Down Syndrome who came home with scratches and heavy bruising
- A nine-year old student with autism who was repeatedly imprisoned in a closed file cabinet by her special-ed teacher
- A teacher who disciplined a student with autism by spraying water in his face at point blank range
- A boy with severe autism who came home with multiple bruises and abrasions
- Several students in a classroom who were forced to put vinegar-soaked cotton balls in their mouths or run on treadmills at a painful pace as a means to get them to complete work
Families are taking notice, and they are talking to their legislators in Texas.
Building on this momentum, disability advocates in our state have been working toward legislation that would require cameras in self-contained classrooms in response to multiple media reports of confirmed abuse in these educational settings. The Texas legislature meets only every two years for 140 days. If you have legislation you want passed or amended, you have a very short window and the pace is unbelievably frantic.
If we are going to get this done in Texas, now is the time.
It’s no surprise to parents of children significantly affected by autism that their kids are uniquely vulnerable to abuse due to many factors: classrooms with closed doors, often inadequate training for teachers and aides, inappropriate staffing levels, children with sometimes challenging behaviors who may not be able to report what happens at school. The explosion in autism rates has brought some school districts to the brink of disaster as they struggle to catch up with rapidly increasing numbers of students who have a high level of need. For many families who have no insurance coverage for autism-related therapies, the public school is the only resource they have to help their children. It’s no wonder IEP meetings have become war zones as caregivers vie for scarce resources. Even squeaky wheels often don’t get the grease. Read more at the NAA site.