Arizona Governor Takes Stand Against Schools’ Mistreatment of Autistics

An expose of institutional mistreatment of autistics in schools across America has changed policy in one more state. Arizona Gov. Janice Brewer has signed a law restricting the use of “seclusion rooms,” euphemistically titled padded closets that students have been routinely confined in for nearly whole school days. The expose was featured in November as part of ABC News Investigation. The feature targeted other harsh restraint tactics such as electric shock and firm holds that have resulted in injury and, in a few cases, death of students. The shock and outrage of parents has echoed across the country after the death of Corey Foster, 16, an autistic boy who was being restrained for refusing to stop playing basketball. Proactive parents and autism advocates have taken video and photographs of “seclusion rooms,” “sensory bags,” and encounters with abusive school officials. Arizona’s new human rights law protecting children from abuse under the guise of discipline is similar to protection imposed in 30 other states. However, there is no federal guideline for school discipline practices and many state systems are unsupervised, leaving disabled children particularly vulnerable. At the core of this problem is a lack of understanding and awareness of autism spectrum disorders and other developmental and psychiatric disorders. Gov. Brewer of Arizona has taken a step toward preventing these violations saying, “Our goal must be to ensure Arizona children—especially those with special needs—are treated in a way that provides for both their safety and dignity.” Shema Kolainu—Hear Our Voices promotes inclusion in our community and worldwide. By fostering understanding and sharing evidence-based therapy and education practices, we can prevent this atrocious mistreatment of vulnerable people. To see the full expose, visit ABC News. Share your opinion below!