All Tied Up
At an IEP meeting a couple of weeks ago a parent requested that we put her student in a straightjacket. Yes. That’s right. The parent wasn’t joking. In her mind this would solve many of the “extreme behaviors.” I had an immediate visceral reaction of disgust, as did others around the table. But I had trouble finding words to describe why we felt this request was so wrong. After all, it promised to control the extreme behaviors (hitting others.) It certainly would make safely securing the student in his seat a much easier task.
Not surprisingly, the rest of the team was more than glad to let me take the lead on this one. I was thinking about the student’s civil rights but I chose to talk about the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). We don’t just jump to an extremely restrictive solution even if it promises to be the safest option if there is a right-sized solution which is less restrictive. After some exploration, we ultimately chose to use a properly fitted safety vest with crotch strap and to monitor the situation closely.
It sure would have been easier for us to accept the parent’s suggestion but a few issues swayed us:
- If we used the straightjacket we feared it would be too easy to continue its use since the student is non-verbal and the parent was OK with it.
- A straightjacket just minimizes the impact of behaviors rather than “solving” the problem.
- Shouldn’t we use the most extreme measures only when there are no other options?
What would you do?