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Following a horrifying report by the Government Accountability Office , Congress has addressed the growing need for federal legislation regulating the use of restraints and seclusion in schools—both of which are already regulated in hospitals and residential facilities.  While the House bill (HR4247) seeks to “prevent and reduce” the use of physical restraints and seclusion, the Senate bill (S. 2860  ) seeks to “reduce or eliminate” them.  Maureen Morrell, Director of Government and Community Relations for The Autism Society of NC, was one of several concerned parents who recently met with Representative David Price to discuss the Autism Treatment Acceleration Act (which he supports) and to suggest that he support HR4247 Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act.

Here are a few of the changes that would be an improvement over the very important Deborah Greenblatt Act  (NC’s restraint and seclusion law):

            1.  Strong supports for positive behavioral interventions

            2.  Includes grants for implementing and training in positive behavioral supports

            3.  Parents must be notified of any instances within 24 hours

            4.  Physical restraint and seclusion are prohibited unless there is imminent danger to the student, school personnel or others

            5.  Data collection and reporting on state level

            6.  Face to face monitoring or direct visual contact required

 We need this federal level of regulation to protect our students with disabilities, especially since so many children with autism are unable to communicate what happens to them at school.  Please contact Senators Hagan and Burr to express your support of these bills, as well as your U.S. Representative.

The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee will hold a full committee meeting on January 19, from 9 am – 5 pm.  Here’s how to join the videocast or conference call:

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