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Panel Calls On Feds To Limit Restraint, Seclusion


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A government advisory panel wants the Obama administration to do more to address the use of restraint and seclusion among people with disabilities.

In a letter that the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, or IACC, agreed to send Wednesday, the group is asking U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to coordinate with federal education and justice officials on the use of the controversial practices in schools and other settings.

Specifically, the IACC is urging Sebelius to work with her counterparts to establish regulations, increase data collection and promote alternatives, among other steps.

“The use of seclusion and restraint in every setting is a critical issue for people with (autism) and other disabilities and their families that requires immediate federal attention,” the IACC letter reads.

The IACC is an advisory committee established by the Combating Autism Act of 2006 that’s comprised of government officials and members of the autism community. The group provides recommendations to federal agencies and establishes priorities for government-funded autism research.

In May, the committee heard from numerous stakeholders about the use of restraint and seclusion among people with disabilities. The letter to Sebelius comes in response to concerns that emerged during that meeting. (Read all of Disability Scoop’s coverage of restraint and seclusion >>)

While there are some federal regulations limiting the use of restraint and seclusion in certain residential settings, a patchwork of inconsistent state and local rules govern the practices in schools across the country.

Last year, the House of Representatives approved legislation that would have established national standards for schools, but the bill was never considered by the Senate and a similar proposal this year has not progressed.

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Comments (2 Responses)

  1. disabilitiesrightsadvocate says:

    The use of restraint and or seclusion is outdated and barbaric. Time and again we hear of money and time spent “training” direct care workers on “proper” techniques in dealing with behaviors that may be exhibited by a person with autism or another disability. Either way you cut it, these techniques are aggressive in nature and can result in injuries and even death. We should be looking to train people on becoming behvior specialists rather than current practices, so that they will be able to better understand what these behaviors could be indicating. Only when we can fully understand these behaviors, can we begin to deal with said behaviors appropriately and without physical interventions.

  2. MasonsMom says:

    Something needs to be done about this practice. My friend’s son was seriously injured when someone from his school tried to put him in a seclusion room – basically a closet with a loud fan. The person(s) slammed the door on him twice. Once breaking his foot and another causing a compound fracture of his hand which required immediate surgery. I’m so angry that no one was arrested for this incident nor were they relieved of their position at this school. It is not only babaric, it is cruel and inhumane treatment of these children. I’m claustrophobic and I can tell you right now if someone tried to lock me in a dark closet I’d fight tooth and nail not to go in there! It’s one thing to restrain a child who may hurt themselves or someone else, but train these people the proper way to do these holds and outlaw seclusion rooms!

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