Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A father's love for his very special daughter.

Scroll down to the second story on this link:

Monday, April 22, 2013

Arizona's new parental notification law regarding use of seclusion rooms in schools

This is the newly added language to HB2476 requiring WRITTEN notification to parents BEFORE their child may be placed in an enclosed space for disciplinary reasons.  Note that there is an EXCEPTION to the notification when a school prinicipal or teacher determines the child poses "imminent self harm to himself/herself or others," but in those situation, the parent is to be notified IN WRITING by the end of the same day that the child is placed in seclusion. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


It is that time of year; flowers blooming, allergies acting up, and time to check in with the IEP team to determine if the student is eligible for Extended School Year (ESY). Did the student regress during Spring or Winter break and need time to catch back up to where they were before break? Would the student's gains be significantly jeopardized if he/she does nor have educational services over the summer?  If the answer to either question is yes; talk to the team about ESY.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

SARRC Bullying and Autism Conference

Conference-Bullying & Autism: What We Know & What We Can Do About It

This two day conference is designed to engage school faculty, families, professionals, administrators, policymakers, and others with an interest in this topic:
Current research, issues & prevalence
How to support a change in behavior as the bully,victim or bystander
How to include kids with ASDs in bullying programming

Bullying & Autism Spectrum Disorders:
What is known from the research, prevalance, and relationship between ASDs, bullying & victimization; what this means; why kids with ASDs are targets of bullies or the bully

Bully Prevention in Positive Behavior Support: From Research to Practice:Building effective and efficient bully prevention programs that are sustainable

Legal Issues & Current Policies in Arizona: Jennifer MacLennan, a lawyer representing schools, & Hope Kirsch, a lawyer representing families, together will address legal and ethical issues on bullying as it relates to the bully, victim, & school.

How to Adapt Anti-Bullying Programs & Supports for Individuals with ASDs: How to adapt interventions to teach kids with learning differences to understand bullying & how to respond to bullying as a victim, bystander, or the bully

The Impact of Bystanders & Bullying: This presentation will address the role of the bystander; how to teach safe & effective responses to bullying for those at all levels of support

A Case Study: How A Middle School Implemented A Bully Prevention Program: Using evidence-based strategies, a principal & her team will share how their school addressed bullying

Dates: April 26 & 27, 2013

Cost:Registration (before April 15)              $35/day     $50/two days
Late Registration (April 15 or later)      $50/day     $70/two days

Scottsdale Public Library Civic Center Auditorium
3839 N. Drinkwater Blvd
Scottsdale, AZ 85251

ASHA CE's:  Day 1    .6 CEU's            Day 2: .5 CEU's
BACB CE's:  Day 1    6.5 CEU's          Day 2: 5 CEU's

For complete details on this conference, go to http://www.rsvpbook.com/event.php?571857.

Temple Grandin on Autism, Death, Celibacy and Cows

Temple Grandin was interviewed by the NY Times:


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Recommended book: Asperger Love

Asperger Love

By Amy Harmon

Jack didn’t really like kissing. To him it was just mashing your face against someone else’s. Kirsten didn’t like being caressed. Such is love between two people with Asperger syndrome. Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times correspondent Amy Harmon chronicles with humor and pathos the ups and downs of two teenagers as they work to figure out how to live together.

Parents: Be proactive regarding punisment of your child at school

PHOENIX -- The lawsuit that put national attention on the Deer Valley School District for putting a 7-year-old boy in a padded room last year is nearly settled.
The Noyes family sued the district after discovering their child was put in a "seclusion room" for hours without their knowledge.
The case sparked new legislation, forcing schools to get written approval from parents before they used the rooms.
That's not the only way schools can punish students if they're acting out.
According to the Center for Effective Discipline, Arizona is one of 19 states still allows corporal punishment.
"Right now, according to the Arizona legislature, corporal punishment is allowed," said Hope Kirsch, a lawyer representing the Noyes.
While the family's lawsuit shed light on seclusion rooms, it did not fully protect students from corporal punishment.
That's because Arizona leaves it up to each district's governing board.
"Every governing board can have a policy on corporal punishment. In other words, you can have corporal punishment. There's no prohibition against it," said Kirsch.
Kirsch said, effectively, it's up to the parents to call their district and ask exactly how their child's school disciplines students.

State Seclusion and Restraint Laws

The updated version of my report, How Safe Is The Schoolhouse? An Analysis of State Seclusion and Restraint Laws and Policies, has been published by the Autism National Committee.  The report is dated 3/30/2013 and is available at http://www.autcom.org/pdf/ HowSafeSchoolhouse.pdf
The purpose of the report is to describe and analyze state restraint and seclusion statutes, regulations, and nonbinding guidelines, and includes maps and charts on the various issues.  Please feel free to forward or share this information.

The report finds that:
  • Only 12 states by law limit restraint of all children to emergencies threatening physical danger for all children; 17, limit restraint of children with disabilities in this way.  Only 9 states protect all children from non-emergency seclusion (one by banning it entirely); only 15 protect children with disabilities from non-emergency seclusion. Instead, children have been restraine4d or secluded for such actions as failing to do class work, being unable to pay attention due to disability issues, pushing items off desks, tantrums or other educational disruptions, as a substitute for positive behavioral supports and for convenience, punishment, and the like.
  • Some children have remained in seclusion/restraint until they can sit perfectly still, show a happy face, or do other tasks unrelated to an emergency.  Children with significant disabilities may be unable to respond to such commands and yet pose no threat of danger.  Only 14 states by law require that less intrusive methods either fail or be deemed ineffective before seclusion/restraint are used on all children; 20, children with disabilities.  Only 14 states by law require restraint and/or seclusion to stop the emergency ends for all children; 22, for children with disabilities. 
  • 33 states lack laws requiring that parents of all children be informed of restraint/seclusion; 22, lack them for children with disabilities.  But of the states with laws or even nonbinding guidelines about this issue, the vast majority seek one-day notification. One day notification is important so that parents can seek medical care for concussions, hidden injuries, other injuries, and trauma.
  • Restraints that impede breathing and threaten life are forbidden by law in only 18 states for all children; 25 states, for children with disabilities.
  • Children locked in closets and rooms unobserved have been killed and injured, when staff are not watching them.  But 29 states allow schools to seclude children with disabilities without requiring staff to continuously watch them; the number rises to 39 for all children.
  • Mechanical restraints include chairs and other devices that children are locked into; duct tape and bungee cords, ties, rope, and other things used to restrain children; and other devices.  Only 14 states ban mechanical restraint for all children; 18, for all children.  Only 13 states ban dangerous chemical restraints for all children.
  • Few states ensure that seclusion rooms are safe. Only 16 states require them to be lit; only 14 to have adequate ventilation, heating, and cooling; and only 8 require that children have access to the bathroom.
  • Overall, 17 states have laws providing meaningful protections in statute or regulation against restraint and seclusion for all children, 30 for children with disabilities.  These have the force of law and must be obeyed.  Even these states offer varying protections, with key safeguards present in some states and missing in others.  In addition, 2 states have laws protecting against one procedure but not the other.  8 have very weak laws (e.g., Nebraska’s regulation instructs school districts to adopt any policy they choose and imposes no requirements whatsoever); and 12 have nonbinding, suggested guidelines that have no legal force and that are more easily changed by the State Department of Education.
  • In December 2009, Congressman George Miller introduced the first national  restraint/seclusion bill, and in 2011, Senator Harkin introduced a similar bill.  Together, the Miller and Harkin bills have had a substantial impact, causing states to adopt and strengthen restraint/seclusion laws to incorporate several of their features.  14 states have either adopted new laws (statutes/regulations) or substantially overhauled existing laws to incorporate their requirements.  For example, 11 incorporate the requirement that physical restraint may not be used unless there is an imminent danger of physical injury for children with disabilities, and 9 for all children.  Since the Harkin bill was introduced, 3 states have added requirements that restraints not prevent a child from communicating that he/she is in medical distress (e.g. cannot breathe).   Of the 20 students who died in the GAO report, at least 4 verbal children told staff that they could not breathe.  
Seclusion and restraint are highly dangerous interventions that have led to death, injury, and trauma in children.  The GAO collected at least 20 stories of children who died in restraint.  Neither practice should be allowed when there is no emergency posing a danger to physical safety.  With no single federal seclusion or restraint law, America's 55 million school children are covered by a patchwork of state laws, regulations, nonbinding guidelines, and even utter silence.

NOTE: Since the report was completed on 3/30/13, two states acted last week. Oregon banned free-standing seclusion cells or boxes.  Arizona passed a law permitting seclusion for any reason as long as parents consent or for emergencies threatening physical harm without consent.  Such unlimited consent laws exist in a handful of states.  AZ does not limit restraint. 

KGK is appreciative of the efforts of Rep. Kelly Townsend, the Arizona House of Represenatives, the Arizona Senate, and Governor Jan Brewer in getting the new law on seclusion; it is the beginning of reforming antiquated and unsuccessful punishments.     

Monday, April 8, 2013

AZ Law Restricts Schools' Use of Seclusion Rooms to Discipline Unruly Children

New Law Targets Padded Rooms for Autistic Kids

By ANGELA M. HILL, MATTHEW MOSK (@mattmosk) and BRIAN ROSS (@brianross)
April 8, 2013

Arizona Gov. Janice Brewer has signed a law providing strong new restrictions on the use of so-called "seclusion rooms" in schools – closet-sized rooms where children with behavioral disabilities such as autism were being locked up as punishment.
"It is chilling to imagine an Arizona school child being shut away in a padded room, no larger than a closet, for hours on end," Brewer said after signing the law Friday. "There has to be a better way."
With the new law, Arizona will join more than 30 other states that impose rules on the restraint of students in public schools.
The use of tiny, windowless seclusion or isolation rooms in American classrooms was one focus of an ABC News investigation that aired on "Nightline" and "World News With Diane Sawyer" in November. The report found that seclusion was one of a range of harsh techniques being used in some American schools to restrain unruly students suffering from autism or other disabilities.

In addition to the controversial use of seclusion rooms, school officials around the country have been employing a wide array of methods to restrain behaviorally disabled children that range from sitting on them, to handcuffing them, even jolting them with an electric shock at one specialized school. Thousands of autistic and disabled schoolchildren have been injured and dozens more have died after being physically restrained by poorly trained teachers and school aides, ABC News found.

The new Arizona law prohibits schools from using confinement on children unless their parents specifically consent to that form of discipline. Brewer called the measure "a starting point" in helping insure children are not harmed in school.
"Our goal must be to insure Arizona children – especially those with special needs – are treated in a way that provides for both their safety and dignity," she said.
The sponsor of the legislation, Ariz. state Rep. Kelly Townsend, said she considers the measure effectively a ban on the use of the isolation rooms.
"The parent now can decide if this kind of discipline is okay for their child and it gives them the option to opt out," Townsend said. "I trust the parents are not going to permit this."
A vocal advocate for the new law was Leslie Noyes, the mother of a seven-year-old boy in Phoenix, Arizona who secretly videotaped the padded room in her son's school after he had been left there for the better part of a school day. She says she later learned he had been held in the room 17 times – though the school disputes that number, saying he was there three times.

"I was disgusted," Noyes told ABC News. "There was one time that I know he was placed in the room a little after 10 a.m. He was there until the school day ended at 3:30 p.m. They brought him lunch in there. He ate it on the floor. He had urinated on the floor. They wouldn't let him out to use the bathroom."
Officials from the Deer Valley Unified School District where Noyes' son went to school said that, because of the pending lawsuit, they could not respond to questions about the case. But in general, spokeswoman Heidi Vega said, seclusion is "the last method of behavior management schools use with a student."
"Our staff is fully trained on non-violent crisis intervention and puts student safety first at all times. The safety of all students is important and remains a top priority," she said.
Rep. George Miller, a California Democrat, proposed national legislation that would create a uniform standard on restraint for the nation's schools – legislation that has failed to even receive a committee vote over the past three years.
Until recently, Miller said, no organization even knew the number of deaths that were occurring on school grounds. He said several advocacy groups spent years tried to assess the toll.
The Coalition Against Institutionalized Child Abuse, an advocacy group, used public records to tally 75 child deaths between 1988 and 2006 that stemmed from the improper use of restraints. A California disability rights organization, Protection and Advocacy, Inc., counted 39 deaths in just that state between 1999 and 2007, all resulting from the use of seclusion or behavioral restraints. A 2009 study by federal auditors reported hundreds of instances between 1990 and 2009 where improper restraint led to injuries, and another study that same year, by the National Disability Rights Network, chronicled dozens of specific cases of young children, many of them autistic, being suffocated or badly injured while being improperly restrained.
There is also little known about how many schools, in how many states, utilize isolation rooms, Miller said. As part of its investigation, ABC News interviewed school children who described the experience of being locked in a seclusion booth as the stuff of nightmares.
"It was dark, there's no windows, you're just stuck in there the whole day," Jordan, an 11-year-old Pennsylvania student, told ABC News. "You felt scared and upset and you were already angry… Even for the bravest kids in the world, it's still really scary."
Hope Kirsch, an Arizona attorney who is representing the Noyes family in their case against the local school district, said she believes the new law will serve as an important first step in ending the use of seclusion rooms in her state.
"This is a victory for parents whose children are victims of this barbaric procedure," Kirsch said. "We would like to see seclusion rooms closed down. The efforts of the Noyes family and Rep. Kelly Townsend, along with Governor Brewer signing the bill, have paved the way toward the ultimate goal of eradicating this inhumane treatment of the most vulnerable population."

Saturday, April 6, 2013

ESY - Extended School Year

What is ESY?
 Extended School Year (ESY) is the provision of special education and/or related services beyond the normal school year or normal hours of the school day of the school district or charter school for the purpose of providing a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to a student with disabilities.

Who is eligible for ESY?
Generally, a student eligible for special education and related services under IDEA (a student with an IEP) is eligible for ESY if he or she regresses over school breaks and then do not quickly recoup what they have lost or forgotten school resumes.  A student is also eligible if he or she is at the point of learning a critical skill, which is a skill related to the child's needs and goals.

How is ESY determined?
Looking at retrospective data and predictive data
  • Retrospective data is current data verified by observation, hard data collection and review, written reports of performance, behavior; we like to see objective and verifiable data, not merely subjective data or anecdotal reports).  Retrospective data ought to look at regression and rate of recoupment of regressed skills after services resume. This is what the IEP team refers to as "regression-recoupment measures."
  •  Predictive data is often used when there is insufficient retrospective data on critical skills available. Predictive data may include expert opinion, circumstantial considerations and anecdotal reports from teachers, parents, related service personnel, tutors - anyone who works with the student.

When is ESY determined?

If you child has an IEP, the IEP team must meet to determine the need for ESY services.  The determination is typically made at the annual IEP meeting. However, the need for ESY services is probably not know if the annual IEP meeting is during the earlier part of the school year, and the need for ESY really can't be known unless there have been holiday breaks to gather data.  If the need for ESY is not known at the annual IEP meeting, the IEP team ought to set a date it will reconvene to determine ESY needs and services. The date to determine ESY must be no later than 45 calendar days from the end of the school year.  Look at your child's IEP.  Does it provide for ESY?  Are you in agreement with the determination that your child needs or does not need ESY?  If not, request an emergency IEP meeting to discuss ESY, and ask for the data that supports the determination. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Settlement Agreements and Releases

Please, please, please beware and be careful of what claims, issues and rights you are releasing when signing a settlement agreement and release.  Please make sure you fully understand claims, rights and issues you are being asked to release.   

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Free screening of BULLY, the movie

Do you know that individuals on the autism spectrum:
Ø  Are at a higher risk for victimization because of deficits in social skills, communication, and restrictive and repetitive behavior
Ø  Fewer friendships is a also a risk factor
Ø  Of all reported bullying events, individuals on the autism spectrum are bullied three to four more times than their peers

Please join SARRC to learn more about issues and solutions specific to bullying and autism.

Ø  Attend a  free screening of the documentary film Bully on Weds. April 17, 6:00 p.m.  An  RSVP is required due to limited seating.    RSVP at SARRC@studiomovie.grill.com.
       For more information, http://www.autismcenter.org/event_details.aspx?id=752
Ø  Attend a  conference Bullying & Autism: What We Know & What We Can Do About It, April 26 & 27. For more information or to register, go to http://www.rsvpbook.com/sarrcbullyautismconf

Arizona passes bill regulating "scream rooms"

Because of our clients and their brave little boy who wanted to tell his story, Arizona students are a little safer today.  Now the work begins to shut down these barbaric scream rooms.  Now the work begins to shut down these barbaric scream rooms.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Seminar on Autism and Bullying

autism awareness ribbonSeminar on Autism and Bullying
Friday, April 26 - Saturday, April 27, 2013
Scottsdale Public Library Civic Center Auditorium, 3839 N. Drinkwater Blvd., Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Included in the conference:
Friday, April 26, 2013:
4:15 - 5:15 p.m. 
Legal Issues & Current Policies in AZ
Hope N. Kirsch and Jennifer MacLennan 
One lawyer represents the school system & the other lawyer represents families. Together, they will
address legal and ethical issues on bullying as it relates to the bully, victim, & school.