Q: Why is it so important to end the use of restraint and seclusion in schools?
A: Lots of reasons. First, many kids experience restraints and seclusions as traumatizing. Even kids who aren’t restrained and secluded themselves often feel traumatized from merely observing these practices. Second, restraints and seclusions are unnecessary and counterproductive. There are many classrooms — yes, even those in which students with severe behavioral challenges are placed — that do not use restraints and seclusions. And they’re safe classrooms. Third, restraints and seclusions are reactive, not proactive, and they solve no problems and teach no skills.
Q: Given the difficulties of many students and how extreme their behavior can be, it is hard to imagine eliminating the use of restraint and seclusion completely.
A: That may be because staff haven’t yet changed their lenses, haven’t yet begun using the Assessment of Lagging Skills and Unsolved Problems (ALSUP) to ensure that intervention is almost totally proactive, are still focused on modifying behavior instead of solving problems collaboratively, and are still placing expectations on students that they are unable to reliably meet. And many school systems need to give serious thought to the Stabilization Designation described in Section #3.
Q: Speaking of the Stability Designation…any more details on that?
A: Here’s the important point. If a student is medically or behaviorally unstable and/or if a student is unable to reliably meet a majority of expectations, then stabilization has to become the primary for that student. Stability is what promotes learning. Placing expectations on students that they are unable to reliably meet simply makes no sense and fuels the use of restraint and seclusion. Many school systems have found it productive and cost-effective to do that stabilizing on their own — rather than relying on outside facilities — either by creating a separate classroom for unstable students or by attaching a paraprofessional or classroom aide to students who are unstable. Among the key ingredients is the temporary removal of virtually all academic and social expectations. Other crucial ingredients include establishing improved communication with parents, obtaining consent to establish communication between school personnel and prescribing physicians, and ensuring that a child’s medication regimen is appropriate and being adhered to.
Q: What about blocking instead of restraining and secluding?
A: Blocking is better than restraining and secluding, but it’s still crisis management. And blocking solves no problems and teaches no skills.
Q: Where can I learn more about the Collaborative & Proactive Solutions model?
A: There are vast free resources on the home website of Lives in the Balance.
Q: I want to do more. How do I get more involved in advocating against restraint and seclusion and in favor of interventions that are focused on solving problems rather than modifying behavior, being proactive, and collaborating with kids?
A: Sign up to become a Lives in the Balance Advocator.
Q: I have a question that isn’t answered here. How do I get it answered?
A: Feel free to submit questions on the Contact form on this website.
Q: I’d like to discuss training options.
A: Feel free to use the Contact form for that too.