Sept 27, 2018, Tampa Bay Times: Hernando schools aim to reduce use of restraints on special-needs students http://www.tampabay.com/news/breaking/hernando-schools-aim-to-reduce-use-of-restraints-on-special-needs-students-20180927/ Terri Zieschang started getting calls to pick up her son from Moton Elementary School in 2016, the year her family moved to Hernando County for a new start. A fourth-grader with autism and a slew of other behavioral and health complications, Kobbi was having outbursts regularly in class. Sometimes, he tried to run away from campus…. After two more years of similar instances — both at Moton and West Hernando Middle School, where she said her son was once handcuffed and charged with battery after an altercation with another student — Zieschang decided it was time to leave…. Two years ago, Cathy Dofka presented Hernando School Board members with a hefty goal. As head of the district’s Exceptional Student Education department, she had a plan to cut in half the number of times special needs students were restrained because of behavior problems…. At the time of Dofka’s presentation, the most recent records available showed 19 incidents for the 2014-15 school year, meaning the district would aim for eight in the following year. But when she came before officials a year later, the number had climbed dramatically, to 92. Records show the department made some headway in 2016-17, as the number of incidents fell to 70. But last year, use of restraints more than doubled to 153. … On top of that, students today are coming to school with greater needs, she said, and the salaries for those jobs aren’t drawing applicants. … Compared to other Florida districts, Hernando falls in the middle for how frequently students are restrained, state records show. Even in Clay County, which shares Hernando’s size ranking and is where Zieschang moved her son, numbers have fluctuated. In the 2016-17 school year, incidents of restraint there more than doubled Hernando’s, totaling 177, records show…. Cooper said some students’ disabilities prevent them from coping with stress in a healthy way, which can result in an outburst. … For years, Dofka has recommended that all teachers of special-needs students undergo training by the Crisis Prevention Institute, which teaches de-escalation methods and certifies trainees to perform restraints. Only 163 district employees have received the training, she said, and the majority are administrators. All principals are trained. …
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Children today are noticeably different from previous generations, and the proof is in the news coverage we see every day. This site shows you what’s happening in schools around the world. Children are increasingly disabled and chronically ill, and the education system has to accommodate them. Things we've long associated with autism, like sensory issues, repetitive behaviors, anxiety and lack of social skills, are now problems affecting mainstream students. Blame is predictably placed on bad parenting (otherwise known as trauma from home).
Addressing mental health needs is as important as academics for modern educators. This is an unrecognized disaster. The stories here are about children who can’t learn or behave like children have always been expected to. What childhood has become is a chilling portent for the future of mankind.
Anne Dachel, Media editor, Age of Autism
(John Dachel, Tech. assist.)
What will happen in another 4 years? How can we go on like this? This is a national (and international) problem of monumental proportions. We have an entire new class of children who cannot be accommodated by the system: many are manifestly neurologically impaired. Meanwhile, the government and the medical profession sleep on regardless.
UK media editor, Age of Autism
The generation of American children born after 1990 are arguably the sickest generation in the history of our country.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
It seemed to me that with rising autism prevalence, you’d also see rising autism costs to society, and it turns out, the costs are catastrophic.
They calculated that in 2015 autism cost the United States $268 billion and they projected that if autism continues at its current rate, we’re looking at one trillion dollars a year in autism costs by 2025, so within five years.
Toby Rogers, PhD, Political economist
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