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Protect Children: National Autism Association Calls for Cameras

Naa longManaging 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.

Comments

Doyle

I think all self contain classroom in all states should have camera and camera in all schools

Lou

Perhaps it is past time to stop creating autistic children. We ALL are part of this process. Please spread the word far and wide NO VACCINATION.

Linda

From page 13 of the NAA paper: "Most schools require notice for observation to occur."

Parents should have unrestricted access to their minor or disabled adult children wherever they are and without any advance notice. Period.

Imagine in America, the government taking a parent's guns for a few hours. Wouldn't go over so well. But relinquish custody of their children? For 12 years? No problem.

The privacy laws mentioned are not to protect children. They exist to protect the government school from parental oversight and interference.

oneVoice

Teachers need to have the training and understanding of autism first.If they mistreat or abuse the child,what message do they send out to their students???!!!The schools must have a system in place where physical,mental,verbal or any sort of abuse is STOPPED AT its roots and these vulnerable kids MUST receive all the support and protection they need.Parents need to document what is happening with their children and visit the school if concerns arise.The bullies and the vultures need to be controlled at the schools.

Amy A. Gracia

Unfortunately, the safety fight continues with the over 22 Auties. My daughter now has an "at home" program we developed after she was being verbally abused and frightened with threats of institutionalization at a dayhab program. We couldn't understand why she couldn't stop crying and was losing weight at such a rapid pace - worry, anxiety and depression.
Staff do not understand Auties and just want to deal with MR or physical disabilities. My husband and I have decent jobs, but it is taking a bite out of our budget. How are families going to cope with the expense of caring for their autistic adult child?
These issues have taken over our lives and I'm concerned for my daughter and other Auties.

Paul S

In addition, I suggest improvement in the thoroughness of back round checks of applicants for job dealing with special needs children, that is, before considering a new hire.

Lisa Kelly

Thank you NAA and AOA for posting this! As the parent of a severely impacted little girl (who is also non verbal..double whammy) i am scared beyond belief daily!

Lets all get together and support this effort!

Anne Dachel

Thank you NAA for focusing on this critical subject. Stories of children being abused and bullied in schools across the U.S. are now commonplace. The safety of special needs children needs to be the first priority of educators.

Anne Dachel Media

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