CHADD, the nation's leading advocacy organization serving individuals with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD), is outraged by an incident reported in the April 1 issue of the Charlotte Observer, in which a seven-year-old boy, diagnosed with AD/HD, had his hands and wrists bound together by his teacher and was forced to sit beneath her desk after he allegedly had taken something from its top.
According to the Charlotte Observer article filed by reporter Robert Moore, once bound, the boy asked to use the bathroom. The teacher agreed, though would not untie his hands. Another student escorted him to the bathroom where he then urinated all over the floor. The article further reported that at this point the teacher unbound his hands and told him to "clean up his mess." According to the boy's mother, the teacher then made him stand outside of the school in the rain.
The teacher has been fined without pay since February 28, and was officially charged with assault this past Monday. She turned herself in at the Mecklenburg jail but is expected to be released on bond.
Tragically, what occurred in this classroom unfortunately could all too easily occur in other classrooms. Whether this youngster has a disability is irrelevant. If the news account is correct, abuse is abuse. That he has an emotional and behavioral health disorder makes it sadder. Impulsive behavior is often associated with AD/HD. As a result, students with AD/HD are frequently the targets and victims of bullying behavior rather than the initiators themselves. But who ever could have guessed in this case that the bully would be the teacher? What kind of long-term psychological damage will be incurred as a result of her punitive tactics? How will this humiliating experience affect his self-esteem? No one can answer these questions, but on one thing all can agree: nothing positive was gained in this boy's young life by this experience.
CHADD is pleased that both school and law enforcement officials responded swiftly to this case. CHADD also expresses its sympathy to the youngster and his family.
As Congress fully engages in debate over possible curtailment of services for children with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), currently up for reauthorization, perhaps the image of the second-grade boy whose hands were bound with masking tape will serve as a vivid reminder that potential cutbacks will result in tragic outcomes for ALL children if better linkages to other school-based, community mental health, primary care and community-based resources are not identified, funded and implemented.
The challenges that educators, parents, and other service providers face in meeting the needs of all students, but particularly students with emotional or behavioral health disorders, are numerous. In addition, the lack of well-trained personnel and comprehensive and sustained services, insufficient funding, definitional obstacles, and short-sighted responses to problems all combine to make providing preventive, therapeutic, or restorative services to children and families a difficult task under the best of circumstances.
CHADD believes that when a school is aware of potential problem behaviors or a diagnosis such as AD/HD, the development and initiation of positive behavioral supports is essential. Students should always be given the opportunity to learn from their mistakes. CHADD does not condone inappropriate classroom behavior, but strongly believes in establishing positive interventions when such behaviors are a consequence of AD/HD or similar disorders
Every parent and educator recognizes that a safe learning environment is essential for successful teaching and learning. Positive learning environments have been part of CHADD's agenda and mission since its inception in 1987.
Recently, CHADD and a coalition of advocacy organizations organized by CHADD released a paper entitled, "In the Best Interests of All." The paper cites numerous challenges facing educators, parents and other service providers, namely significant barriers to identification and treatment, and proposes specific legislation designed to improve delivery of services to children while retaining vital protections currently required by IDEA.
Perhaps if some of these measures had been implemented, what occurred to this seven-year-old, second-grade boy with AD/HD may have been prevented all together.
If you would like to obtain a copy of "In the Best Interests of All," please contact CHADD at 1-800-233-4050. The paper can also be downloaded from the CHADD Website (PDF) at www.chadd.org.
Contact: Peg Nichols, Director of Communications & Media Relations, or Winnie Imperio, Communications Associate. 301-306-7070, extensions 102 and 117.
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