Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sign the petition:Stop Mercer County, KY school from abusing autistic children.

When therapists have their ideas of helping their patients, who is there to monitor that it is the right treatment? I remember a woman who died when they put her inside a bag to simulate her birth process?
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Dear Ann,

When Sandra Baker was called to pick up her 9-year-old autistic son, Chris, from his Mercer County, Kentucky school, she was stunned by what she found: She says that Chris's teacher had stuffed him in a gym bag and left him in the hallway as punishment.

"When I walked in," Sandra told CBS News, "I went down his hallway, and I saw this big green bag laying in the floor beside the [teacher's] aide, and I saw it moving."

Then Sandra heard a voice come from inside the bag: “Momma, is that you?”

Sandra demanded her son be released immediately, but allegedly the bag was tied so tightly the teacher's aide struggled to open it. When Chris finally got out, his mom says he was sweaty and uncommunicative.

Lydia Brown, a freshman at Georgetown University, is autistic, too. When she heard about Chris's ordeal at school , she started a petition on Change.org demanding the Mercer County school district discipline the teacher who put Chris in the bag and require its teachers to complete training on interacting with autistic children. Click here to sign Lydia's petition now.

At a meeting with school officials last week, Sandra learned this wasn't the first time Chis had been stuffed in the duffel bag as punishment. The teachers allegedly referred to the duffel as a “therapy bag,” but lacking even basic training for working with autistic children, were unable to explain how confining Chris to a drawstring bag constituted “therapy” of any kind.

Here’s the worst part: after her meeting, Sandra says she rec eived no guarantee that this kind of abuse wouldn’t happen again -- either to Chris or to other students in Mercer County schools.

That’s just not acceptable to Sandra, or to the 12,000 people who’ve already signed Lydia’s petition on Change.org. Lydia is hoping to deliver the petition to the Mercer County school board at their next meeting. The school board won’t be able to ignore this issue when they see the thousands of people angry about Chris’s treatment and calling for changes.

Please sign Lydia’s petition to get Mercer County schools to fire Chris’s teacher, and to get the school district to require its staff to complete comprehensive training on i nteracting with autistic children.

Thanks for being a change-maker,

- Katie and the Change.org team


Why This Is Important

(Updated and corrected version)

In Mercer County, Kentucky, nine year old Chris Baker, an Autistic student, was told by his special education aide to climb inside a bag intended for therapeutic purposes as a punishment to "control his autistic behavior" on 14 December 2011. He was placed in the bag with the drawstring tightened and left in the hallway in the school. When his mother, Sandra Baker, was called to the school to get her son, she demanded that he be removed from the bag right away. The teacher struggled to undo the drawstring, and Chris emerged sweaty and non-communicative. According to the teacher, this had been done several times over the last year, but Sandra didn't know until this latest incident. While she met with state officials on Monday 19 December 2011 before a possible meeting with school officials, there is no guarantee that those meetings will prevent this kind of abuse from happening again -- either to Chris or to other students.

If you think it's wrong to tell an Autistic child to climb inside a bag not intended as an instrument of confinement and tighten it with a drawstring, which could potentially have led to serious injury or death, as punishment, then please sign this petition. This is wrong. This is abuse. It needs to stop.

Update, 27 Dec. 2011: I have received a few messages expressing concern about why the petition does not solely call for the firing the teacher responsible.

While I personally believe that the teacher more than deserves to be fired, the demand stipulates that if she not be fired (which it does request explicitly -- asking that the teacher "be dismissed from position") then she be required to complete extensive education regarding respectful treatment of Autistic students. I do not harbor any illusions that the people who are naturally malicious-minded and inclined to abuse will truly benefit or amend their ways from any amount of education; however, in the event the county Board of Education refuses to fire her, it would be better than simply allowing her to keep her job and stay in the same position where she already is now, maintaining the status quo.

I firmly believe that the majority of teachers are people with good or decent intentions who genuinely want to support their students and not abuse them; the kind of education demanded in the second and third provisions of the petition ought to provide these people with a better foundation and toolkit for interacting appropriately and respectfully with Autistic students and students with other disabilities. I would much rather focus on what good can be gained of a horrific and disgusting situation than the good that cannot be gained from it, and that is what I hope to accomplish with this petition.

In response to concerns about misinformation or conflicting information about the type of bag used, it was an Abilitations BagOBalls (not a duffel bag, or a gym ball bag, or a netted bag), which is intended to be used for occupational therapy, specifically sensory integration therapy through application of deep pressure; however, the teacher who told Chris to get inside the bag was NOT a trained clinician using the bag in a therapeutic setting in a manner so that he would have been free to leave of his own initiative. It was instead used inappropriately as a restraint and a punishment, not as a therapy.

- Lydia


Ginny said...

This is AWFUL!!! Autism is a medical condition that children cannot help! He needs to be removed from the school and sent to a better place.

Felisol said...

I have signed the petition. I have seen similar acts of "behaviourists" in Norway and even helped removing them from their jobs. They are a menace to society. We need stronger laws to protect the weak and mentally challenged to these people.
Thanks for caring.