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School and Hospital Grossly Overstep Their Bounds Restraining and Drugging Canadian 8 Year Old

When Debbie Kiroff's son disappeared from the teachers' sight, the school called police. But what happened next has her sounding the alarm about the appropriateness of both the school's and the hospital's response. (Submitted by Debbie Kiroff)

NOTE:  My father was born in 1922. He'd have been in first grade in 1928 or so. He used to tell us a story that he could not use scissors well as a tot.  Nor could he ride a bike.  His family was Irish Italian poor, 10 kids. Bikes were a luxury.  Scissors were to make clothing, not crafts. One day, his teacher marched the entire class down the street to my father's house. The teacher knocked on the door. My grandmother, Hannah Veronica Sullivan Rossi answered.  The teacher then proceeded to shame my father in front of his class and his mother, proclaiming that he was deficient in cutting paper. My grandmother took a broom, and beat the teacher with it, shooing her off their porch. End of story.  I miss her.  I think I miss 1928 too. Kim


A Toronto-area mother is searching for answers after she says her son was taken to a hospital alone in the back of a police car, placed in restraints and injected with a sedative because he was acting out on the first day of school.

Debbie Kiroff says her eight-year-old, who loves cooking, Lego and swimming, has behavioural issues and a severe learning disability. So when the principal at Holland Landing Public School phoned her on Sept. 5 to say his behaviour was "escalating," it didn't come as a shock. 

"They know he's a runner," she told CBC Toronto. "When I first brought him to the school, I said to them, 'He likes to run. That's his release.'"

For Kiroff's son, the frog pond near the school is where he finds calm. "He usually runs to the same spot near the little forest that they go to for day trips."

'Mom, they've already got him in the police car'

But when he disappeared from teachers' sight on the first day, Kiroff says the school called police. What happened next has her sounding the alarm about what she says is a lack of supports for children with difficulties, and she's left with questions about the appropriateness of both the school's and hospital's response.

It all began with an argument with another boy over who should be able to use a computer. 

"He's running around right now, he's got a ruler, he's climbing this, climbing that," Kiroff says the principal told her, asking her to come pick her son up.

Kiroff says she works for Canada Post and had a truck full of packages she had to unload first. In the meantime, she says, she sent her daughter, who had her baby with her, to the school.

While her daughter made her way over, the principal called and said the eight-year-old was running off of school property, says Kiroff.

By the time she got there, it was too late. 

"Mom, they've already got him in the police car. They're taking him to the hospital because he's too angry," she says her daughter told her on the phone.

You don't need my consent for that?'

Kiroff's son was taken to Southlake Regional Health Centre. She says she had to wait 15 to 20 minutes before being allowed inside.   Read more here.



Morag; thank you for your kindness.
Grace: I'm glad you liked my response to Suzanne. Re the person apparently wanting you to claim to have had some kind of childhood abuse; very bizarre and unsettling.There was a time a while ago ( you can google false memory syndrome) when a subset of therapists were talking people into claiming abuse that didn't happen, and ended up destroying families as a result. Glad you are comfortable with standing up to such nonsense. Eventually the increasingly bizarre and implausible scenarios and lack of evidence started to help the thing unwind. ( Satanic rituals involving elephants, for example..)
Re addiction; people with autism who have different backgrounds from yours may experience things differently, from how drugs and alcohol effect them, to how they perceive drug dealers. For some, the drug dealers are Mom and Dad. I remember one roommate years ago describing how his mother had him holding a gun pointing at the other person, during a drug deal , when he was 7 years old. Fortunately he didn't get into drugs, but there was plenty around for him to try at home. People who are high as a kite often aren't very concerned about what their kids are or aren't doing. And some sick individuals may think it funny to watch a child get high.
Our school is a pretty good school , but like many public schools, there are probably people who deal drugs. My younger son is a little naive, so we have had long conversations about not accepting pills, or medicine ( or even candy) from people who seem friendly, but might not be.
My older son, walking out of an anime convention got approached by someone trying to sell him drugs. He was only 17 at the time, and was pretty shocked. He said no politely several times and walked away. Drug access seems to depend at least in part on how you were raised, where you hang out, and whether or not your parents or close family members were/are users.


This is a difficult serious situation and article to read, but thank goodness people are interested and care enough to take the time to comment with a view of making a positive contribution. All comments are important, relevant and appreciated . Looking at this situation from a distance, is it possible that there has been no co-ordinated multidisclipinary case conference meeting yet for this young lad . Because without that basic person centred process being in place for him ie information gathering ,then assessment of needs /abilities/risks . Plan of action . implementation . then regular reviews ,then he could easilly end up in the same situation again next week without an urgent referral for overall assessment . This whole situation looks like and sounds like typical Institutional systematic failure of service provision planning . Please Nurses continue to comment, your input is valuable, and it is important to hear what the situation is in accident and emergency departments.

Grace Green

Hera, Autistic people are not just law abiding. Even those "high-functioning" like me would find it impossible to access illegal drugs - communication difficulty, making contact, scary people?! However I'm most concerned about the phrase in the study you quote, "substance use-related problems." Recently I was told by an NHS dentist that my bleeding gums (and other problems) were related to poor diet and poor hygiene. I got my dental amalgams removed and my gums have never bled since (16 months). Nothing else changed - it was the mercury. I'm afraid these proffiteers are finding any way they can of blaming vaccine injury on the victim. It's all to easy to say, you must be taking drugs because you have these problems, and these problems are because you are taking drugs. I've also written on here before that I've been told I must have been sexually abused as a child. I have told them, they can burn me at the stake but I will never make a false allegation against anyone. Families are being split up because of "abuse", parents are in prison because of 'shaken baby syndrome', and it's all lies to cover up violence and murder by the vaxtremists.
I like your reply to Suzanne. This is a topic which needs much more attention. My heart goes out to the parents who have to cope with children this disabled. We all need more care, and less hatred.

Hera for Grace and Suzanne

Hi Grace,

While people with autism tend to be more law abiding, and people with severe autism can't access drugs on their own anyway, it is not unheard of for someone to have co morbidity of autism and drug addiction.

Increased Risk for Substance Use-Related Problems in Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Population-Based Cohort Study
From the study/

Using Swedish population-based registers we identified 26,986 individuals diagnosed with ASD during 1973–2009, and their 96,557 non-ASD relatives. ASD, without diagnosed comorbidity of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or intellectual disability, was related to a doubled risk of substance use-related problems. The risk of substance use-related problems was the highest among individuals with ASD and ADHD.


It is really hard to read tone over the internet, and sometimes interactions with people can be misunderstood. I got into a big disagreement with one of the posters here once, mainly because I truly was misinterpreting their tone. it was another poster ( Benedetta) who made me realize I was reading a tone that really wasn't there.. And like everything, it is so much harder to have understanding for someone else if everything is, as my Mom would say "Going to hell in a handbasket" on that day..

As a former RN, ( left the profession years ago) I completely got what you were saying, at least in part because there is a certain detached way even the kindest and gentlest nurse talks because it helps us get through the many terrible things we have to see. ( It is similar to the way those in the autism community will laugh at poop smearing jokes.) That professionalism can come across as cold or even callous to outsiders who don't have to deal with the same type of things.

That's is why so many of us nurses connect and marry police, fire fighters, or the military. So, I hope you read this, and I hope you stay.


Kim, I'm not trying to describe what OUGHT to be, but rather what is, in a regular old community hospital nonspecialist ER. It has many potential hazards, not the least of which is the possibility of running again, straight out the ambulance bay and into the path of an ambulance coming in hot. I read your response, I'm still not clear on what you see as the alternative here, in a real life/real time scenario with dangerous environment, child unable to self regulate, no caregiver who is known to child to help him. That's what I'm asking. What do you (actual parents) want to be actually done? No sarcastic tone here. Not rhetorical. I'm looking for actual recommendations.

Or at least, I was. Now, I won't be back. I'm not asking for a free pass, I don't really know what you mean by that. You want people to put themselves in your shoes? To let their kids be pinched and hurt by your kid? Punched? Injured? You expect the nurse to take a hit? A kick? How many kicks? What if she is small? Old? Pregnant? Sued? Lose her license? Lose her career? That is what will happen to her if something goes wrong. And hindsight is 20/20, but in a catastrophe it's not always easy to see the best answer quickly. I really and truly don't know what I would do in that situation. Can you honestly say that you would either, if confronted with a potentially self destructive, possibly violent child WHO IS A STRANGER TO YOU? Not your own child. A child for whom you have NO IDEA what his coping strategies are? Touch? No touch? Distraction? Minimize stimulation? Companion? Solitude? Quick, you have 15 seconds before he slams his head on your tile floor.

The only pediatric behavioral restraint I ever participated in was on a beautiful blonde suicidal 12 year old girl who ran out of our ER (different one then) and into the very dangerous ghetto/downtown neighborhood we were located in, and had to be chased by multiple staff members to be brought back in. One of the highest rape and murder neighborhoods in our city. Very scary, very sad. But I would do the same today. Call me heartless. I won't be here to hear it.

Grace Green

Hera, yes, of course, my comment was OTT, and yours is a hypothetical scenario anyway, but I feel I must point out that those of us with autism/ME will all tell you that one sip of alcohol makes us feel terrible, and anything stronger would be completely out of the question!

Jule Miller

He needs a hair test and to detox for heavy metals.


Hi Grace,
Moral dilemmas are always interesting.
( By the way, just to clarify, I didn't work in the ER; too much stress.Way back in the day, more than 20 years ago, I was one of the go to "soothers" though for traumatic brain injury patients, dementia patients etc though. Not a skill set I really have or use any more. )

Re the lady with drug addiction; some in the ER would probably agree with you. Drug addicts don't always get the best or most prompt treatment, depending on the attitude of the hospital staff.

It is good to remember though that the "drug addict" in the scenario is also a person, and most people don't get that far down without some reason. Maybe the addict had autism too, and was self medicating to deal with overwhelming inputs she couldn't handle any other way.Maybe she struggled with other mental health issues, or as is also common, maybe she came from a horrendous childhood full of abuse and torture. And of course, with an addict, as long as there is life, there is hope. Addicts have a chance. They can recover, fight their addiction, get clean, become happy and fulfilled.

Of course, in reality, the soother would probably have had to leave the addict anyway and go help save the life of the guy having the heart attack.. :)

Grace Green

Hera, that's an interesting description of an ER. From a purely moral standpoint, in your scenario, I would send the "soother" in to the child, who has autism because of those greedy people at the top of the "healthcare" system, rather than the drug addict, who should be allowed to destroy themselves if they wish to. I know that will earn me some angry replies!


Hi, Grace. I appreciate your comments. I'll think a bit longer. Today's mood is cloudy, with a chance of spitballs! Kim

Grace Green

Kim, I really don't see "you people" as aggressive or obnoxious. In fact I thought your reply to Dude was more aggressive. I feel you're not understanding our (autistic) way of communicating, and I come across this every day in our society. I often just cannot understand why someone has taken offense at something I've said. Also, as you are Managing Editor of a website of this nature I think it's important to keep all autistic people on side. We have a huge battle to fight with the perpetrators of our predicament, and I feel we don't need to be fighting with each other.
I did however agree with your reply to Suzanne, and presumably she has no such extenuating circumstance.


Thank you, Hera - keep reading and commenting! :)



Hey Kim,
You are one of my heroes. And you are right. Acceptance and understanding for our kids and their behaviors can be close to non existent unless you get really lucky and find some really good people.

Have had those days when everything goes wrong, and just keeping your head above water takes everything you've got. Can't find the words to say what I am trying to say, but .sending you a virtual glass of your favorite wine and a box of chocolates your way. Wish they could be real.

For Rude Dude and Suzanne the Nurse

Kim here. Maybe "Dude" has autism - still a learning opportunity to approach anyone with some manner of dignity and respect. I have to teach my children how to behave every day.

Suzanne may indeed have valid points - her tone indicated her disgust and impatience with her patients.

I'm done giving free passes. My kids get ZERO passes from the world - acceptance is a joke. If my daughter pinches your child in a store as her means of saying "HELLO! I WISH I COULD TALK TO YOU!" (without malice) will you accept her? Get real people.

Not today.



By the way, for my last comment ( I hope it went through; it took a while to type and may have timed out) I did not mean to imply that any of those things did happen, just wanted to explain why Suzanne may see things differently, having experienced different scenarios.. Waiting 20 minutes to let the mother see her son was very stupid on the part of the hospital and letting the Mom in straight way probably could have changed the outcome.( imo). It is just that just as parents we know that the real world isn't always black and white or simple, so the ER isn't always going to be black and white either.


Hi Kim, got to speak up for Suzanne here. Completely agree about what the school should have done differently. The ER in the hospital though is a whole different kettle of fish. And there is a reason nurses and ER docs burn out so fast.
Sometimes the ER is quiet.And sometimes it isn't. When it is quiet , get someone to talk the kid down, quiet room, away from bright lights, one on one, stay with him. And this is where, even if it was busy, his parent being present could have made all the difference. But lets make it busy for a moment.
Ok. There is the guy you have just hooked up to the cardiac monitor. he is looking pretty grey around the lips, and you are expecting him to crash any minute. You move the crash cart close to his room, and need to keep a really good ear out for that monitor alarming. Then there is the lady in cubicle 4 . She is seven months pregnant and she is bleeding badly. Shit. Needs action fast. There is the drug addict three cubicles down whose eyes are huge and someone needs to convince her to say what it is that she took. She has already had narcan and she just vomited all over the bed sheets and the floor.She says she doesn't need to be here and she is thinking about leaving. You are not sure if she will make it if she goes. You send your best "soother" in to her. Then there is that guy who keeps talking about how the voices are saying he should kill himself and then starts looking at you funny too.And you know the doctor keeps surgical scalpels for cutting stitches three drawers down in the cabinet,and you really don't want to give him enough alone time to find them.
Oh, and the police just came in with an eight year old. No parents, and despite having sat in the car for a ride to the hospital he is still hitting everyone in sight. Surprisingly strong. You had better keep that pregnant nurse away from him ( the one who miscarried last year after she got hit in the stomach by a patient.) You are eyeing up the police with him, but they are useless at calming him down. And you don't really trust the look in that big guy's eye when the kid hits him. There is no one left to sit with him, so you restrain him, make sure those cuffs aren't too tight, and give him a sedative because being restrained sucks and at least that takes the edge off his panic. You will check on him every 15 minutes to make sure he is ok. And like Suzanne said, you wish the parents or even an aide was with him, because they could have talked him down and stayed with him. Hospitals, and particularly ER's aren't always pretty. Sometimes it is just trying to keep everyone alive and thank heaven if you pull it off.

Grace Green

Kim, I think dude might come across as "aggressive and obnoxious" because he's autistic and ,like me, doesn't always realize how he sounds to others. I think understanding should be extended to us just as it should be to those who are non-verbal, and don't run that risk at least! I take dude to mean just what he says. Private education doesn't have to be expensive - I home educated my sons on the lowest of incomes, after I saw that my oldest one would in no way be able to cope with school as it was then. I know this may be very difficult for families with one or more severely affected children. But if I had been forced to send my kids to school I think I would have been down there every day complaining about one thing or another, and it might have been more helpful if this mother had told the staff WHAT makes her child run away so they could avoid it. If we don't stick up for our kids no-one will.

For Rude Dude and Suzanne the Nurse

Good morning. Dude - wow, "you people" is aggressive and obnoxious. Would you like to give us each $120K for our kids to attend a private autism school - PER YEAR? FAPE - Free and Approrpiate Public Education is the right of every American child. That their brains have been pummeled is neither their nor OUR fault as parents.

Suzanne - "I don't want to offend" is usually followed by someone really offensive. Your instinct shows - restraints are a pain in your ass with paperwork - oh and emotionally tough. I agree there is no EASY option here - for the schools, the Mom who trusts the school puts SAFE programs into place - as is her child's right - for the hospitals who have IGNORED the behavioral destruction of our kids for 2 decades. Medicine is to heal and help - to even utter this boy's plight in the same sentence as a drunk 45 year old speaks to your belief system. Perhaps the morgue has an opening for you - no unruly icky patients.



What I don't get is why you people keep putting your kids in these public schools where they will be bullied, tased, beaten, shot etc... you know these places are crap holes. They don't even educate the children. Why do you put your children in a public school? It is like, what do you expect to happen?


I put it in caps and then misspelled it! 😜 That would be ... encephalopathy.


Very shocking and very serious situation mistreatment for this dear child . Training deficiency of staff very apparent sadly,for this boy.
The whole area of Learning Disabilities/Learning Difficulty is still languishing with staff attitudes in the 19th century Current state of knowledge about Cerebral Palsy from organisational "High Ups " in NHS still consider Cerebral Palsy to be a "stable, static, condition ?" Acute training deficiencies identified right left and centre .
Sound the blinking well alarm for them. It is totally not acceptable . Although safeguarding training is improving .Who is accountable /responsible when it is health and social care. education. or police.
who are the source of mistreatment or neglect?


Too bad this beautiful little boy doesn't play football. If so, his CTE, that would be CHRONIC TRAMATIC ENCEPHALOPATY might be more empathetically, and effectively addressed.


Why was this boy sent to a school that obviously didn't understand or be able to deal with his disability? I thought Canada was more advanced than this. Is this the best the school or medical system could do for this child? You don't restrain or drug a child like he is an animal! This is disturbing on so many levels. Just heartbreaking. Only a parent who has lived this can understand the feeling of hopelessness you feel when your child has these types of behavior issues. I work in healthcare and keep my son far away from most providers. They are clueless!

Jeanne J

I think Suzanne's questions will be the prevailing response to our schools and communities because of the inability to manage the population of neurologically and behaviorally damaged children we are tasked with educating. This is why Dan and Mark's book "Denial" is so very, very relevant. We have been brainwashed into believing that there is no autism epidemic, no ADHD problem, we are better at identifying and educating learning disabilities,etc. So, for the most part, the average classroom continues to instruct as if the 21 century students can learn in the same classroom formats as their 20 century, more neuro-typically available counterparts. Won't work. It was not enough for this parent to inform the school of her son's elopement issues. He should have a behavior intervention plan that lists what his behavior looks like when his anxiety starts to escalate. There should be strategies for what he can do to de-escalate, including strategies and personnel involved. He should have instructional strategies on how to self-calm and social-emotional learning instruction. That will require personnel trained to provide that instruction. And, it will need to take place during the school day, in small group instruction, along with all of his other classes. If he qualifies for an IEP, this should be part of it, if not, (here in America) it would be a part of a 504 plan. Now, multiply this scenario times the tons and tons of students who are similarly behaviorally involved, and you see how woefully unprepared most schools are in dealing with these behaviors. My school, a self contained special ed school, has added to the codes that all schools have now (the shelter in place and lock down code/drills for emergencies). We have a code green. It implies a child has eloped. It announces where the student was last seen. There are designated runners of the younger staff, who are assigned a particular exit to check, while the rest of the available staff check nearby non-classroom space. That is because elopement is a real, common response for individuals with autism, ADHD, behavioral disabilities, etc., when they become overwhelmed. So we plan for it. These news reports are going to continue, as long as the public continues to buy into this lies about better identifications/always been with us. Education needs to join the ranks of schools healthrooms. They have had to move from the 20 century model of just handing out bandaids, taking temperatures, and passing out the occasional feminine monthly product, to the 21 century model of epi-pens, cabinets full of medication and nebulizers.


The child should have an aide with him that could escort him without touching him to oversee his safety until his mom could get there or could talk to him until he could safely return to the classroom. The sensory overload can be too much and the need to "escape" to find a way to gain control is there so if the staff is aware of this then no child is put in danger. It's usually when an uneducated staff member attempts to touch or corral the child to keep them inside that things escalate because the child feels trapped and threatened. So by accompanying them and letting them get that space the problem can de-escalate.

Grace Green

As an adult with "mild" autism, I have to say I think these situations should be avoided before they get to this stage. When I was at primary school, in the 50s to 60s, we had to sit quietly in our own desks, our only interaction was with the teacher, after raising ones hand, and we got on with our work. I've been in some modern schools, and the pupils have to sit around a communal table, interact with each other, share things etc. So for me the telling sentence is that it all started with a tussle over the use of a computer. This is all too difficult for autistic kids. Give us what we can manage, our own space, clear instructions, peace and quiet. Recently I taught piano to two brothers with autism. One had his own classroom assistant. He told me he asked her to stop whistling because he couldn't concentrate. She wouldn't stop! I probably have much more ability than the boy in this story, but Im sure I'd do a runner if I had to go to one of these schools!

Ed. I'm getting "no entry" to comments on the MHRA article of a few days ago. Is it just me?


"Suzanne", above, does have a point. Also, when I followed the link to read more, all I got was a 404 Error. So I don't know the whole story. But restraint and DRUGS should always be a last resort. Did anybody try HUGS, before restraint and drugs?.... All we really know about the kid is his Mom saying he's got "behavioural issues and a severe learning disability". That's pretty vague, and yes, that CAN result from abuse, neglect, or poor parenting. There's just too much left unsaid here, for anybody to make a better opinion. But the idea that schools are too quick to restrain and drug away their "problem children" remains a valid argument. Also, it's likely the kid was put on drugs at an early age. The drugs themselves often cause more problems than they solve....


I've never commented here before. I don't want to offend. I believe that many negative effects on kids have been caused by vaccines, and I support the premise and cause of this site. That's why I visit. But I don't have a "special needs" kid, so I don't know what a mom in this situation expects teachers to do. I think most of us will extend quite a bit of leeway to special needs kids and parents, because we realize that there, but for the grace of God, go I. If I'm out somewhere and see a family with a special needs kid, if the kid is making extra noise or taking extra time, no prob, I explain to my kids we are to be patient, helpful, not rude or unkind, etc, offer to help, hold a door, not stare, whatever I can think of. Its not much, maybe that sounds offensive even, people like me, we know we lucked out through no greatness of our own, but you don't really know how to be helpful, so you are just quietly sympathetic.

I am also a nurse in an ER. I DO NOT enjoy tying anyone down. Even for the most exasperating terrible drunk 45 year old, it's a hassle and a lot of paperwork, but for an innocent kid, it is emotionally troubling as well.

BUT, if this was going on in my kid's class, I'd be ticked at this mom. If this came into my ER, I'd be ticked at this mom. "They know he's a runner". That does not mean they can prevent it. Many teachers are middle aged ladies with back problems. They can't wrestle or chase this child. They can't lock him in. They are expected to maintain some semblence of instruction for the other students in class. So the kid is escalating, they call Mom, and she's got other stuff to do, can't come. The kid gets out, they call 911. What if they hadn't, and he DROWNED in that pond.

So now you are at the hospital. Safest thing for everybody, kid included, is restraint and medical sedation. He is OUT OF CONTROL and doesn't know us. Sure, mom, if you were there you could calm him down, but we are strangers and this is a terrifying environment. He's not going to calm down.

So tell me. I'm listening. I'm a sympathetic parent. My kids are in your kid's class. I'm the nurse in that ER. What SHOULD have happened here?

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