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Picture of Child TantrummingLast December, an advocate received a call from a family whose 5-year-old son, Timmy, had been restrained and secluded at school.  The teacher reported he had been struggling in kindergarten all year, demonstrating rigid behaviors, difficulty with transitions, and emotional meltdowns that resulted in his being disengaged from the class about 50% of the time.

The parent asked that he be assessed for special education and related services, but the district administrator stated that he did not have any academic difficulties, so he did not qualify.  The District did not provide any additional support to the teacher or to the child, and the problems continued.

By December, the student’s behaviors escalated to the point where he was hitting and kicking staff, and the district deemed this 36 pound child a “danger to staff,” so they physically restrained him. The confined him to a seclusion room. Repeatedly.   Still, there were no changes to the program, and the problems continued.

Since Timmy's Mom still had no understanding of why her son was exhibiting these behaviors, and since the district was providing absolutely no services, upon a recommendation by a COPAA Board member and a special education advocate in Connecticut, the parent requested independent evaluations. The evaluations resulted in Timmy being diagnosed with a severe anxiety disorder.

As a result, the District had the information they needed to develop an appropriate program, the administrator agreed to add a consultant and more staff to the child’s IEP, and Timmy is doing much better and is engaged in his class. 

The parent had been worried that she was going to need to move her son to a private placement (which would have cost more than $100,000). Because the school team now knows how to support Timmy and allocated the appropriate resources to support him, he is able to stay in his neighborhood school and learn with his friends - and importantly, is no longer subjected to restraint and seclusion in school.

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