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ILLINOIS: State tries to limit restraint/seclusion of special needs students

Dec 14, 2019, Jacksonville (IL) Journal Courier: Parent welcomes guidelines on restraint use in school For the mother of a 7-year-old student at Garrison Alternative School, the move by the state to limit the use of isolation rooms and restraints for students is a step in the right direction. “My son didn’t want to go to school because he was afraid he’d be put in one of those rooms,” Susan Ward said. “Some of these students would sit in there until they were tired or worn out.” Her son, who is autistic, has been placed in an isolation room before and it has left him scared and nervous, Ward said. “I had to request that he not be placed in an isolation room because it made him so upset,” she said. The use of isolation rooms and physical restraints has come under fire by the state in the past month after reports of misuse and overuse of the techniques by some schools. The Illinois State Board of Education banned the use of isolated seclusion and physical restraints in November, but later released certain situations in which those techniques could be used. … “Garrison School/Four Rivers strongly believes in the guidance and principles articulated by the federal Department of Education and the Illinois State Board of Education regulations, which make clear that restraint or seclusion should never be used except in situations where a child’s behavior poses imminent danger of serious physical harm to self or others, and restraint and seclusion should be avoided to the greatest extent possible without endangering the safety of students and staff,” Pennell said in a written statement. According to Pennell, staff members who may be required to use these techniques are trained in the appropriate procedures and use. … “Our staff is annually training in non-violent crisis prevention intervention (CPI), and we emphasize de-escalation techniques, which stress the reduction in the intensity of a conflict or potentially violent situation by applying learned verbal techniques designed to avoid heightening a situation that could lead to more restrictive interventions,” Pennell said…. Though her son can lash out during a meltdown, Ward said, there often are signs that he is upset long before he escalates, signs she believes should be recognizable by staff members. “There are other things they could do,” Ward said. “I have offered other suggestions for my son. If he is getting upset, let him go to another area of the room if he needs a break, let him go to the sensory room.” Ward said other practices need to be developed for students. While there are no plans to discontinue the use of isolation rooms or restraints, Pennell said Garrison will follow any rules set down by the state. …


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