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Large collection of resources available here: http://specialeducation.wikia.com/wiki/SPED-Restraint-Resources
Update Definition of Restraint A more precise definition of restraint is needed. As currently written in the proposed regulations, 46.02 "Restraint - Other: shall mean Limiting limitation on a student’s the physical movement using force against the student’s resistance.", a child can be held, pushed or redirected physically without the regulations applying. The proposed regulations only apply when force is used against "the students resistance. Therefore, if the student is not resisting it is not restraint. This should be clarified by removing the text "against the student's resistance".
The medical literature refers to "learned helplessness" as one of the effects of repeated restraint. A child who is feeling helpless, powerless and distraught may not resist, but they should still be treated with respect and encouragement as primary interventions, not physical force.
Update Definition of Physical Restraint A more precise and narrowly focused definition of physical restraint is needed. The proposed regulations 46.02 say "Additionally, physical restraint does not include: providing brief physical contact, without force, to promote student safety or limit self-injurious behavior, providing physical guidance or prompting when teaching a skill, redirecting attention, providing comfort, or a physical escort". The governing clause should be made clear so that all examples given are only allow when "providing brief physical contact, without force". As currently written, it could be interpreted to mean that physical escort of any kind is NOT restraint, even if the child is carried. The same with "redirecting attention" which could take many forms including use of mechanical equipment forcing a child to move or other actions which would otherwise be deemed physical restraint and not allowed or only used as a last resort.
The definition of physical restraint must ensure that any "direct physical contact that prevents or significantly restricts a student’s freedom of movement" is physical restraint.
For example, the current Cambridge Public Schools regulations say:
"When a child inappropriately gets out of his or her seat, the child should be physically “redirected” back to his or her chair. A physical redirection is done by placing one hand on each of the child’s shoulders and returning the child back to his or her chair." See section II 4 on page 2:
Obviously, it's completely inappropriate for every child who gets up from their seat to be physically pushed back down. To address this, the updated regulations should be changed to read:
"Physical restraint shall mean direct physical contact that prevents or significantly restricts a student’s freedom of movement. The term physical restraint does not include prone restraint, mechanical restraint, or medication restraint. Additionally, physical restraint does not include providing brief physical contact without force which does not limit students movement to promote student safety or limit self-injurious behavior."
Any other physical contact which limits movement or uses force is physical restraint. This is especially important for children on the autism spectrum and others who are highly sensitive to physical contact and likely to escalate any time they are touched unexpectedly. It's also important to children who have suffered trauma and break down and re-live past traumatic experiences if an adult tries to physically control their movements.
Reduce duration of time out Thank you for including a specific maximum duration for "time out". However, 30 minutes is too long, especially for young children. We know from Piaget and others that the first few developmental stages for children do not include the ability to understand time, especially in discrete units like minutes. So 30 minutes of isolation may feel like hours and many children will not understand if or when it will end. The time out limit should be less than five minutes for elementary age children and less than ten minutes for all others. Add citations here.
Define allowed time out spaces Any rooms used for time out (also known as quiet rooms) must be comfortable and encouraging in order to serve their purpose of helping students feel calm. In addition the spaces must conform to MSBA standards for occupied spaces. Currently, the rooms do not meet that standard (see: the MSBA submission for the Angier School in Newton which says: "Three storage closets without mechanical or fresh air have been converted to specialist spaces for OT, speech and special education; these spaces do not meet state building code requirements for occupied spaces" Note: file is 46 MBs and available on request)
Update the regulations with an additional paragraph at the end of 46.02 saying, "Any space used for time out must be comfortable for the student and include a window which the student can see out of. It may not have a door with a lock and it must conform to state building code requirements for occupied spaces."
Clarify the purpose of time out and only allow it when it meets that purpose The proposed regulations correctly specify that the purpose of time out is for calming, not punishment. However, no part of the regulation specifies that time-out should not be used when it does not have a calming effect. The regulations should be updated to add the following sentence at the end of the definition of time out: "Repeated isolation two or more times of students which does not have a calming effect is not time-out and shall not be used. When the child's parents or the child's treating physician or the child's psychologist confirm in writing that time out does not have a calming effect on their child, time-out shall not be used".
Add personal stories and examples here e.g. Time out or break rooms are used extensively in private and public schools. For some children with sensory challenges or a propensity to be overwhelmed by many social interactions (e.g. children on the autism spectrum) a quiet space is useful. However, it's a fine line between a quiet space for punishment and a space that helpful. I have seen the isolation rooms at many private and some public schools. They are usually stark concrete spaces or empty padded cells and they often reek of urine. I know children who initially welcomed the opportunity to be in a quiet place, then gradually grew to fear being shut away. Some children will pound their heads against the wall repeatedly when placed in isolation. So my proposed updates to the regulations are based on personal experience and are designed to ensure that quiet calming places are available, but they are not inadvertently misused, leading to more harm than good.