I kept screaming that I can’t breathe

Today’s guest author is Maggie R.

Maggie is an autistic, bipolar, ADHD, and PTSD disability advocate and victim of seclusion and restraint. Maggie’s goals are: to bring more awareness about the dangers and deadliness of seclusion and restraint through art and writing; to encourage others to speak up; and to end seclusion and restraint forever. Maggie has also recently published her first book, Princess Lauren: The First Adventure. Princess Lauren, is an autistic Princess, who goes on a mission to find a mythical, magical locket along with her friend Galvin, but she has to be careful because her evil cousin, Vallo, is tracking her down.

My trauma started at 2 years old after my parents divorced when my dad would beat me. Having a trauma background, I was 6 years old in the second half of kindergarten, as I had gotten kicked out of the last school I went to that couldn’t deal with me, where I was first secluded and restrained.

The school would grab me and lock me in these small closets and leave me in there alone. They would scream at me “are you calm!” from outside the room.

Of course, I would not calm down, only tire myself out and fall into crying mode. Then I would be shamed by literally everyone even my parents for self-defense. I would also get very defensive towards these people.

That went on for a while. In 4th grade, my 3rd-grade teacher was going to be moving us on into 4th grade. She was a teacher that the parents and the kids loved, but she was fired because she refused to use seclusion and restraint. The school district framed it to the press as a money issue. But that couldn’t have been further from the truth. They then brought in a tall strong man instead to be our teacher and to control us. They had put the door back on the closet room. The three kids including myself in the classroom refused to cooperate because we missed our old teacher and we were scared of the new teacher.

While all of the three kids in the classroom were secluded and restrained. Two incidents within two days, back to back, involving me is what it took for the child protection agency to get involved. Whether the school district wanted to admit it or not they had been paying parents to shut up about the abuse going on at all the schools.

It was mid-February 2014, it had been a rough year. I was in the middle of a meltdown and was being secluded and restrained when a teacher opened the door slightly to scream at me and I tried to stop the door from closing. My hand got slammed underneath the door in the process. The school nurse called my mom with evidence of the abuse. My hand was bruised for 5 months.

My mom was already going to sue the school. The very next day’s situation is what got the child protection agency involved. It was the end of the day and I was upset that my babysitter had picked me up and not my mom. I went into a meltdown. The school staff grabbed me, picked me up, and tried to push me into the car. After several attempts, they dropped me on the ground as I was crying and screaming.

This teacher from another class walked up to me and puts her knee on my chest in a very strange supine position where I couldn’t breathe. I kept screaming that I can’t breathe and my babysitter was texting my mom for help.

I slapped the teacher 3 times and she started threatening me. That’s when my babysitter looked out the car window, got out of the car, and saved me. My mom was beyond angry with the schools. I wasn’t in school for the rest of the year and the government decided not to fault the schools for the situation because I slapped the lady out of self-defense of which I had worse injuries. I was being victim-blamed by the Ohio government.

There are many more incidents after that of seclusion and restraint I could share.

I want to prove that seclusion and restraint are bad. I also want to get seclusion and restraint banned and for schools to be held accountable for their actions! I want to make all aversives illegal. And most of all, I want to bring a lot of awareness to these issues.

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