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We Must Eliminate Restraint and Seclusion in Schools: Zachary’s Story

Crystal Garrett Snoopy Souce: www.peanuts.com [image: the cartoon dog Snoopy, doing the “Snoopy Dance.”] Zachary’s laughter has been called infectious. One specialist even opined it sounded much like Charles Schultz’s famous character, Snoopy. Those breath-taking sounds of pure joy that burst forth from deep inside his belly are a special treat these days. Zachary doesn’t laugh much anymore. There’s a reason my six-year-old’s giggles have been replaced by meltdowns. And his story deserves to be told because he is not alone: There are many traumatized autistic children just like him—their stories must be heard, too. And if we have any compassion, we must listen to them. This is Zachary’s story. It was only the third day of first grade — Aug. 26, 2015 — that my child was involuntarily committed to a hospital more than two hours from my home. Zachary had not been properly diagnosed yet, but we would…

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Social Skills: Context Matters

Tasia lifehiswayblog.wordpress.com We want April — Autism Acceptance Month — to matter, to help further acceptance and understanding of autistic experiences, happiness, and rights for autistic people of all ages and abilities. We will be publishing your Autism Acceptance posts and pictures all month long. If you want to participate, contact us at thinkingautism at gmail dot com. -TPGA Editors Last week Nick’s science teacher mentioned in an email that he was concerned that Nick is isolating himself socially. The other kids don’t know that he’s autistic, and they wonder about his odd behavior and lack of social reciprocation. There appears to be a general atmosphere of acceptance in his science classes, and I am not pressuring Nick to disclose his autism. Still, something seemed lacking in his teacher’s view, because school is seen as a social place and not just an academic place. A child who doesn’t even try…

Autism & Back-to-School: What Do You Wish You Knew?

Does back-to-school make your stomach do backflips? Ours, too. So we asked some of TPGA’s contributors what they wish they’d known — as parents, or as students — about the back-to-school season. Here’s what they shared: Mir Kamin wouldashoulda.com I knew it was okay to press for what my kid needed, but it took me a really long time to learn that it was also okay to admit when it’s time to stop trying to hammer your square peg into a round hole (and go find a square hole). I never in my wildest dreams expected to be a part-time homeschooler/unschooler, and yet it turned out to be a wonderful solution for our family once I gave up on the assumption of “making it work” with public school. Mind you, classroom accommodations provided by my son’s IEP worked for a while … until they didn’t. I’m so glad I finally…

Restraint and Seclusion: In Your Child’s School and Nationally

Mary Brandenburg and Tony Brandenburg www.theebrandenburgs.blogspot.com Trigger warning: discussion of aversives, restraint and seclusion; mistreatment of disabled people Recently, a story that has been in the headlines regarding treatment of students with disabilities concerned an autistic 4th grade boy in Kentucky. Reportedly, the boy smirked and threw a ball in class.  The teachers’ response to this behavior was to stuff him in a duffel bag and tie the drawstring so he couldn’t get out. His mom was called to the school to deal with his behavior. She discovered him when she heard a voice calling from the army bag. Thankfully, he didn’t suffocate, but who can measure the emotional trauma he suffered? Another school in the news, the Judge Rotenberg Center, uses painful electrical shocks, restraint chairs, shackles and seclusion to control the behavior of people with disabilities. This center, which charges $200,000 yearly tuition, has lobbied extensively in Washington…

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Back to School

KAL autismtwins.blogspot.com I am alone for the first time in months. Hello silence! How I’ve missed you. Which also means: Hello self! There you are! How are we feeling about being alone? Should we eat some ice cream or should we write. I’ve carried half-written posts around in my head all summer, never finding the space or time to sit down and share them. My boys turned seven. We had a lovely family vacation and I sank into brief breaks here and there — a book on the beach, a stroll on the sand — but nothing quite beats the sound of silence for this weary mom. Back to school brings with it the familiar angst, the wringing of the hands, the transition to something new. We’re in second grade. The amount of worrying I do as back-to-school ramps up is ridiculous. Ridiculous. It helps when I hear that I’m…

Why We Are Homeschooling Our Autistic Son

Emily Willingham daisymayfattypants.blogspot.com biologyfiles.fieldofscience.com Since TH was in kindergarten, he’s had a nemesis. Ironically, it was the very first person he met at his school, as we had just moved into the district. Idiots that we were, we thought she seemed pretty nice and encouraged TH to engage with her. Of course, he didn’t. Or, at least, he didn’t do it the “right” way. Two weeks into the kindergarten year, we learned that a parent had contacted the teacher, complaining about our son, claiming he’d made “death threats” against her son. Turns out, her son and this girl we’d met that first day together had teamed up against TH and had (and I’m not making this up) threatened to cut his head off and throw it in the trash. TH had parrotted this back to them, and that’s the part that the boy had told his mother, conveniently skipping over…

And Thoughts are Turning Back to School

Liz Ditz http://lizditz.typepad.com/i_speak_of_dreams/ http://lizditz.typepad.com/academic_remediation/ I know we said a break, but… Today, Gary Brannigan PhD and Howard Margolis PhD (the authors of a great book, Reading Disabilities: Beating the Odds) published a blog post Stonewalling the IEP. While Brannigan and Margolis are writing about specifically reading issues, their advice can be generalized to all kinds of issues. The blog post is particularly about “Present Levels of Performance” and how many IEP teams skimp this section. Brannigan and Margolis suggest there are four reasons: The school members of the IEP Team don’t know how to develop a Present Levels section that’s complete, meaningful, and functional. The district’s evaluations failed to supplement norm-referenced data from standardized tests with instructionally-relevant functional information. School members of your child’s IEP Team have overwhelming caseloads. (Rarely): To wear parents out and send a message to other parents: “Be satisfied with what we give you.” Brannigan and…

The Inclusion Dance

Susan Etlinger www.familyroomblog.com It’s official: I’m a bitch. By which I mean I’ve moved past that initial flush of optimism and teamwork and wanting everyone to feel good about themselves to disappointment, confrontation, detente, anger and now — inevitably — relentlessness. And it is relentless — for reasons bureaucratic, cultural, personal, possibly gender-determined and sometimes inexplicable. The day starts with a clamor of children in the big yard. It’s an expansive space — too much for the Kindergartners, much less any child with sensory issues — and children whiz around, hollering, bumping into each other, a chaotic, moving mass of kidness. Isaac refuses to set foot in the yard. This full frontal assault first thing in the morning is unbearable. He makes a beeline for the library, and insists we sit and read a book. He falls apart when I tell him it’s time to go to the classroom. “Nooooo,”…