Friday, August 05, 2011

Common Sense is Anything But Common

Tuesday we discovered that Dylan's advocate's boss physically restrained Dylan which resulted in a finger like bruise to his wrist.

The story went like this... Dylan's advocate's boss (let's call her S) was shadowing Dylan and his advocate that day.  Dylan was in last period at camp.  It was gymnastics, something he struggles with greatly because it requires waiting his turn and that's pretty hard on any 6 year old, especially at the end of the day.  They were doing an obstacle course and Dylan wanted to go over an archway that he was supposed to crawl under.  His advocate corrected his behavior a few times till she finally decided to remove him from the area.  He was getting angry and started to yell at her "I mad at you, you not my friend" and, according to S, pushed the advocate (who's 4x his size and wasn't concerned about the push).

Before the advocate had a chance to act, S swooped in behind Dylan, grabbed his wrists and pulled them across his body in, for lack of a better explanation, a straight jacket hold.  Dylan began to cry that she was hurting him.  Now, my sensory seeking child does not experience pain like the average child.  It take a lot for him to be hurt and for him to say something was hurting and he was crying is a really big deal.  The entire bunk knew this - from the advocate to the counselors, even the kids knew this was bad.  The advocate told her to leave him be and she was told to be quiet and observe as "this is how we restain a child when they are escallating".   Dylan, my dear sweet child, who never feels pain (at least not like most kids) was crying to be let go.  "You're hurting me!"  His advocate implored the woman to let him go and she told her to back off.  After she released him, she demonstrated to the advocate on the senior counselor how to hold him.  She told her there was no way in hell she'd do that to him and that if he needs to be held, she hugs him and that's it.  He cried uncontrollable for a long time.  The counselors, the advocate and kids were shocked.  No one had seen him cry at all this summer. 

When I called his advocate, she was hysterical crying.  Her heart was broken.  She felt terrible that she didn't protect him.  She felt bad that she allowed this so-called case worker to hurt my boy.  I don't blame her.  Not at all.  She loves Dylan like he is her own. 

I spoke with just about everyone that matters.  I saw the camp director that night and told her what happened.  I called S's boss and talked to her.  I called a friend who's an attorney who specializes in special needs.

Ultimately, she was reprimanded.  A policy on use of restrain will be drawn up and it will no longer be left to an indivdual's interpretation or the hope that someone with this power would use common sense.  Parents of children effected will be notified that their staff have been trained in restraint and share the policy with the families.  I've received apologies from anyone and everyone (and so has Dylan).

There are no laws to protect children from unlawful restraint in my state.  This needs to change.  Yesterday I saw a tweet - a child had died from an overzealous caregiver restraining him in NJ.  This young man was restrained by a supervisor who did “not follow protocol nor use proper techniques while to trying to restrain”.  It scares me that the woman who restrained Dylan also did not follow protocol or use proper technqiues when restraining him.  The difference here is that this young man needed to be restrained... Dylan did not.

S teaches at a special needs preschool.  I'm really struggling if I should contact the people I know there and let them know what happened.  I don't want her to lose her job.  However I do want people to know that she could possibly do this again, to a small pre-schooler who may possibly be non-verbal.

I've heard through the grapevine that she had done this to other kids but they were non-vebal and their advocates didn't have the relationship with the families that mine has with us.  So internet... what do I do??


  1. I work in early childhood education and monitor up to 8 preschool centers at a time (or I will for one more week since I've resigned!) I say you absolutely need to talk to the center she works at. She left a mark. That is considered abuse. You don't have to call and demand she be fired or anything, but just call and calmly give them the facts of what happened, how it was handled, etc.

  2. I'm so upset, reading this brought back what had been done to my Amy by a physical therapist when she said Amy got out of control. I was there. You're right, there aren't laws in many states to protect our special children. I'm sorry this happened to your little guy. Our children are at risk enough as it is. I taught school for 16 years, not special needs, but 32 second graders, and I never laid a finger on them and they could get wild at the end of the day. Hugs and again, I'm sorry this happened to your sweet innocent child. Christy- Amy's mom

  3. I agree that you really need to contact the other school, especially since she has done this before! I can't imagine what kind of damage that would do to a young child who can't talk out what happened, and this way she can be retaught proper restraint and those around her can be aware not only of her actions but of their own.