"I believe that if Shayne's educators had listened to what we were saying instead of blaming us for the behaviors, we would not have endured that horrible day that changed her life forever, as well as ours."
By Michelle Gonzalez-Yoder
This is my story as a mom, and now as a teacher. This is also Shayne's story. Shayne was my first born. As all first time moms I was very excited, and scared at the time of the unknown. When she was born our excitement as parents came and left at birth. We were notified that she was medically fragile and we did not know if she would live. But this is only the beginning of our story. The worst was yet to come, and unfortunately, could have been avoided if Shayne's behavior was appropriately addressed.
With a medically fragile daughter, we struggled over the years as Shayne attended school trying to explain her behaviors. Many of Shayne's problem behaviors were learned as a survival skill due to her medically involved life. As her parent some of the behaviors were unintentionally reinforced by us as our own mode of survival.
Up until Shayne was 9 years old we fought for her health and were able to include her at a center-based program in her home school. This meant that she participated in regular education classes with her typical peers, and was only "pulled out" for specialized services when necessary. Shayne attended school full time and was very excited that she was able to take the same school bus as her typical peers!
February 12, 1997, changed our lives forever, especially Shayne’s. This is the day that her educators decided that their form of time-out would be that of restraint. According to the educators they decided that in order for Shayne to learn to follow their rules they had to strap (tie her down) into her stroller (which its only purpose was to be used for transportation on trips/distance). The stroller, with Shayne strapped to it, was then placed into a classroom storage closet, with the stroller propped up against the door.
Somehow, the stroller tipped over while she was in it causing her to sustain a severe head injury. During this time Shayne was crying and screaming for them to let her go. They called this "time-out." They told Shayne that if she did not do what they wanted her to do that they would put her in time-out. According to the educators, Shayne was misbehaving because she would not eat (allow them to G-Tube Feed). Imagine not wanting to eat and having to be forced!! This incident changed our lives dramatically. Since then Shayne is now a different person. She was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and is now a different child because of the trauma.
It is very important for educators to really take the time and listen to what parents are saying because we do understand our children. Believe it or not, our children spend more time with us.
I can tell you that every year Shayne attended school, I would make a point to talk to her teacher explaining who Shayne is, what she likes, does not like, and how her year went.
I always explained to Shayne's educators the importance of never placing Shayne in time-out because this method never worked with Shayne in the past, and that is because of her years with the medical system. I even went as far as having it written into her IEP that “Time-Out was not allowed as a form of discipline.”
Re-direction was more effective for Shayne because she would feel in control when given the appropriate choices to choose from even though the educator was in control of those choices. It had to do with Shayne being able to make choices. Feeling in control.
Shayne's control was taken away from her in 1997 and her life has been forever changed. Please take the time to understand your students' behaviors with their families- this is the only way you can help them!
For more info information about Restraint, please read the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) Restraint Guidelines.
For more info information about Time-out, please read the Colorado Department of Education (CDE)Time-Out Guidelines.
Colorado Department of Education. Guidelines for the administration of the protection of persons restraint act. Can be retrieved from:http://www.cde.state.co.us/spedlaw/download/RestraintGuidelines.pdf
Singer, G.H.S., Gert, B. & Koegel, R.L. (1999). A moral framework for analyzing
controversy over aversive behavioral interventions for people with severe mental retardation. Journal of Positive Behavioral Interventions, 1(2), 88-100.
Ryan, J.B., Sanders, S., Katsiyannis, A., & Yell, M.L. (2007). Using time-out effectively in the classroom. Teaching Exceptional Children, pp.60-67.