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While they can be difficult to share, our stories are critical for influencing change. Our stories help others to realize that they are not alone and that they too can influence change. Our stories can influence members of the media to investigate and write articles that can inspire change. Our stories can connect with lawmakers who can change the law to protect our children and our loved ones. Please share your story and let us know how we can use it to influence change.

Read stories from others

Here are stories from parents, advocates, educators and others related to the use of restraint and seclusion.

The healing power of cooking

Our son Cole was born fifteen years ago with Down syndrome, and I often say that when he came into this world, he flipped our world upside down in the best possible way.  Cole has always been a compassionate, good-natured, and funny guy.  He has taught us more lessons than I can possibly recount.  But the biggest lesson of all is that if we trust in Cole and follow his lead, he can overcome any challenge that comes his way. 

I kept screaming that I can’t breathe

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.

Locked in the safe room

I was hospitalized 13 times during my childhood. It has to be well over 500 times I was restrained but I honestly could not tell you it was that much and that bad. Once I was stripped down naked and given a paper top by male staff while an inpatient and then locked in one of the non-padded safe rooms for 5 days. Refused to give me a blanket or pillow, I literally had nothing. The walls and floor were concrete and I was puny shivering like crazy while the building was 65 degrees fahrenheit. I couldn’t curl into a fetal position well enough to stay warm. I was punched by some kid in the face before this happened and instead of me getting the help she told them I punched her in the face and they screamed liar to my face as I pleaded for help. Mind you this place was a religious hospital too. 

“It hurts, please let go” stories of restraint and seclusion in North Dakota

enforcement or SROs in the school setting that may not be credentialed to work with kids. I am concerned that there is zero representation of tracking circumstances for these children charged by SROs or School Districts that address specifically the lack of fidelity to the legal binding contract of the child’s IEP (Individual Educational Plan) to which is Federally mandated by law or in a child’s behavioral intervention plan (BIP).  The criteria that are placed into these legally binding documents is what results from that child’s functional behavioral assessment (FBA), which is conducted by appropriately licensed staff. 

Nonspeaking Student Restrained 33 Times Without Report To Parents

Remember that feeling you had the first day you left your helpless, months-old baby at daycare? That anguished, groveling, fear? How you needed to believe, so desperately, in the goodness of people, in their ability to be gentle, patient, and honest? Imagine feeling that every day for 13 years, and then imagine someone, or maybe 2 or 3 (or up to 9!) adults restraining your innocent, disabled, utterly helpless boy for 7, 10, 20 minutes and then sending him home without a word, day after day. Imagine that. 

My Child Can’t Talk. How Will I Know if Someone’s Hurting Him at School?

My son is autistic and has a significant intellectual disability. He attends middle school in a self-contained classroom. Recently, we learned that one of his classmates was physically restrained by staff 33 times in a period of 8 weeks — at least once to the point of unconsciousness — without report to the child’s parents. My son and all the students in the classroom witnessed this and have been significantly traumatized by it. We are very grateful that the parent of this child shared with us this information when she was finally informed. Otherwise, we might never have known what our children had been exposed to, or why they were showing such signs of distress. 

The Places That Stole Me

have a unique way of leaving reality behind them. A child playing dress-up puts on a cardboard crown holds their plastic staff, does a royal wave, and becomes a queen or king. A child opens a box of crayons, colors the green of jungle leaves, the blue of a running river, the yellow of a lion’s fur, and is transported to a new adventurous world. In my opinion, a child’s greatest role is bringing imagination into the world.

“Hit him if he does that.”

It was hard to bring my son to school again. He had dutifully gone to school each day, unable to tell me about what he was being subjected to, never resisting or complaining. But the day he was to start at the new school the effect the experience had had on him was plain: he trembled from head to foot. His legs shook so hard I couldn’t get his socks on. I said over and over, “This is the NEW school, sweetie. The NEW school. It’s safe. I promise.”

“Do that again and I’ll lock you in the bathroom…”

One day in August 2013, I walked into the cafeteria of my son’s school, looking to speak with his teacher. The room was crowded and noisy, filled with disabled kids, their teachers, and aides, assembling before the start of a day of Extended School Year (ESY) services or summer school. I couldn’t get very close to the teacher.


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