This week I received one from Wrightslaw about the recent adoption of an Emergency Resolution of the New York State Education Department that allows schools to use aversives when approved on an IEP.
Aversives are defined as:
- noxious, painful, intrusive stimuli or activities intended to induce pain such as electric skin shock, ice applications, hitting, slapping, pinching, kicking, hurling, strangling, shoving, deep muscle squeeze
- noxious, painful or intrusive spray, inhalant or tastes
- withholding sleep, shelter, bedding, bathroom facilities or clothing; withholding meals, limiting essential nutrition or hydration
- movement limitation used as a punishment, including but not limited to helmets and mechanical restraint devices
- placing a child unsupervised or unobserved in a room from which the student cannot exit without assistance
Most remarkably, the Emergency Resolution requires "the humane and dignified treatment of the student." Sounds like the language of the Geneva Convention — and we know how well that has worked out for prisoners of international conflicts.
As the Wrightslaw e-mail points out, the fact that these regulations were enacted on an "emergency" basis, with no public hearings or public comment, gives parents and child advocates some time to plan and implement a strategy to persuade the policy-makers that these regulations are - inhumane.
When I called the office of my state assembly person, Deborah Glick, to inquire about this emergency resolution, a staffer there said she'd do some research and call me back. When she called back she assured me that aversives could not be used unless the IEP mandated it and the Commissioner had reviewed the IEP. I can't begin to tell you how not reassured I was by this information.
How many IEP meetings are missed because a parent gets the notice 24 hours before the meeting date? How would the single person at the top of an enormous bureacracy begin to know the needs of a particular child?
Assemblywoman Glick's aide also told me that many parents desperately want to have IEPs that allow the use of aversives — that the NYSED is trying to satisfy parents on both sides of this issue.
My thought was that if you or I were to put a child in restraints, or use electroshock, or withhold food as disciplinary practices in our homes, it would be called what it is: child abuse. And social workers would come and remove the child from said home. But when these same measures are planned by state-funded school employees, they're called "behavioral intervention."
Okay, so I'm soapboxing.
But the use of "aversives" for kids with special needs is something that just seems so wrong, so nineteenth century, that I get a bit breathless about it.
I'm going to save my breath for the hearings on this matter, now set in Albany, New York City, and Syracuse:
Albany: Tuesday, August 8, 2006
Time: 3:00 pm – 7:00 PM
Location:Capital Region BOCES
Administrative Board Room
1031 Watervliet Shaker Road
Albany, New York 12205
Please note: you should enter the Administration Bldg by the entrance near the flagpole.
New York City: Monday, August 14, 2006
Time: 2:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Location:Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building
163 West 125th Street
2nd Floor Art Gallery
New York, New York 10027
Directions and subway information at:
Syracuse: Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Time: 3:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Location:Dr. King Elementary School
416 E. Raynor Avenue
Syracuse, New York 13202
Format of the public hearing
Preregistration is not required. However, if you require special accommodations such as a sign language interpreter, you must notify Carol Northrup by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 518-473-2878 no later than August 3, 2006.
NOTE: You must bring photo identification, obtain and wear a visitor badge and follow sign-in procedures, which may include a security scanning, as required at the door.
All individuals seeking to provide oral comment must so indicate upon registration at the site of the hearing. VESID requests, but does not require, that individuals wishing to make oral comments at the public hearing also provide comment in written format. Sites open 30 minutes prior to the start of the meeting. Individuals wishing to provide oral comment are encouraged to arrive early.
The rules of public hearings will be reviewed and a brief summary of the proposed regulations will be provided.
There is also a written comment period:
Written comment will be accepted until August 28, 2006 and should be directed to:
Dr. Rebecca H. Cort
Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities
Room 1606, One Commerce Plaza
Albany, New York 12234
Or by email: email@example.com
Attention: Comments: Behavioral Intervention Regulations
Keywords: autism • Asperger's Syndrome • ADHD • learning disabilities • speech-language disorders • parenting • family life • special education • child abuse