Friday, April 04, 2008

Aversives and Disability Advocacy: Current events

(As much as I liked WHAM 13 News video about the use of aversives here in NY, this video had to go--I just couldn't imbed it so it wasn't automatically running... This video showed tiny concrete time-out rooms in a Rochester area school and showed documentation that the rooms were used for punishment rather than time-out for one child. The child had been moved there during a classroom incident and was there until the end of school. The next morning he was brought back there without an incident to "finish his time" according to the video.)

Above is the latest video about aversive therapies in NY State. I have written about this topic before (three articles in 2006 here, here, and here.) For me one of the most disturbing images in the whole video was the hallway full of time out rooms with decorated doors—to me this gives the message that the school just knows the kids are going to be bad—bad behavior is just a normal and expected part of the day there.

I know that people with some disorders struggle with safe and appropriate behavior, but I think schools and programs should be set up to convey the message “we expect things to improve” rather than “we expect things to deteriorate.” I found the image of all of those doors discouraging. (One of my friends pointed out that from the outside those rooms looked like fun places--she thought this was disingenuous...)

I have written about the fact that schools are the only agencies in NY that are allowed to employ aversive techniques to modify behavior. Parents who put their child in time-out for more than 3 hours in a closet lose custody in this state. Apparently solitary confinement is legal in prisons, but even there it is pretty strictly regulated.

I have written before about the power that professionals have to create the reality that is then punished, and the fact that having the aversive on hand to use keeps professionals from finding newer, better solutions.

It is time for NY to create a consistent ethic for the treatment of all of its citizens without exceptions.

Write to your legislators, write letters to the editor!

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