A letter for the Alliance Against Seclusion and Restraint and the Community
Today’s guest author is Sara Sambolin.
Sara is a wife and mom to three kids ages 22, 13, and 11. Sara has a background in technology, and psychology, and has used her knowledge and experience to advocate for her children, and to support the efforts of local charter schools. She and her family live in Frederick, Maryland.
We are parents from the Frederick, MD community and recently read the news about FCPS practices regarding the use of restraint and seclusion. I just started crying, feeling grateful after knowing that thanks to you, people with the emotional strength, knowledge, and support advocated for yours, were listened to, and opened doors of justice for others to begin breaking the apathy barriers needed to improve our education system. No one deserves to be hurt and traumatized by others, no one. Those practices did not just hurt our child when he was in 2nd grade but also his siblings and the whole family. We wrote many letters for months, trying to get the attention of the authorities, but no one replied. It was frustrating, and we had to homeschool our children to protect them from those practices. It was a real nightmare.
When I found out that the teacher and the staff of the elementary school where my child attended for second grade were isolating our son without letting us know for weeks, and my child was crying every day and not wanting to go to school, I had to put my career in technology on hold and dedicate 100% of my time to understand what happened. While providing time to help him recover, I worked to complete a master’s degree in psychology focused on researching the challenges of children in inclusive classrooms. I started to homeschool him during the day and practice the knowledge and techniques I was learning because we did not find the appropriate support in our town.
At one point, I had to concentrate on the application of the techniques that I learned to help my child recover, which he eventually did.
He is now attending one of the charter schools and having a great experience, socializing, and learning to trust the system again. The tools he learned helped him cope with the daily school activities, and he is just doing an amazing job without any intervention or medical treatment. I did not have my work published until now. I decided to write an article that includes my master’s capstone project with all the research that has most of the techniques and useful information that helped us understand and support our child while educating him unconditionally, helping him free his mind of the traumatic experiences that he suffered. Now he is a teen embracing life with such love and motivation, the fruit of our love and efforts.
We know that we need to share the knowledge and testimony of our experience with the community and the education system so they can also have additional research that can be included in their new policies and procedures for the new inclusive model of education. I wrote my article “A cry for Prevention and Intervention: Challenges of Children in Inclusive Classrooms, Strategies for Support” for the community to learn how we found practical strategies that helped us in the healing process of our child and us.
It has been a difficult journey of 24/7 support that I had to provide to get him back from his traumatic experience, help him recover his self-esteem, and go back to school without fear.
But after several long years, he did it with our unconditional love and support. We can declare that he has healed from that traumatic experience, and he is happy. He even forgave those who hurt him in those years. Now he has great social experiences, and he is performing academically and behaving as expected for a child his age. This May, he was promoted from 8th grade, and this Fall, he will start his High School years. We will continue, just like the eagle, watching over him and his siblings. We will watch closely over the practices of the schools because what we have here is just the beginning of big and deserved changes in our school system. This is the root of the positive changes needed for other systems across our dear country. We must persevere not just for our children but for the families and communities. We believe that what you have started here will have the most significant impact if we persevere.
Thank you very much for all the work that you, Mr. Guy Stephens, and the volunteers of this important organization have done. There is still a lot of work to do now, especially during the creation of the new policies, standard procedures, and guidelines for all the schools, and then the hard work of implementation that comes next for this project to succeed. There is always hope, and we believe that for every problem, there is always a sensible solution. With the wonderful teamwork of the parents and education system staff, working together for the best interest and service of our children, our people, and our future leaders.