Disabled Students Sent To Emergency Room For ‘Time Outs’

Accommodating disabled students is something that schools in the United States are required to do, as the disabled have the same rights to public access and education as other students. However, the way these accommodations are made varies widely, with some students having dealt with discrimination, frustration and even abuse.

They're locked into solitary classrooms, forced to eat crayons covered in hot sauce, restrained for "acting out," and, apparently, sent to emergency rooms for behavioral outbursts.

Students with disabilities are typically given an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that details the specific accommodations the school will make for the child. It creates clear guidelines that the student, teachers and school will follow.

IEP's are not always followed, and parents have reported struggles with school districts not giving their children basic accommodations. Some schools in New York City have reportedly sent children to local emergency rooms when they have outbursts.

Using the ER as an effective "time out" room for these students…even after parents have said they do not want their children taken offsite to handle outbursts.

Having students in a classroom who cause disruptions can be challenging and teachers can have a problem determining why the child is behaving in a certain manner. Sadly, many are approaching the problem with restraint or seclusion. In a disabled student this can make the child more upset and anxious. In some cases children are removed from the classroom and sent to a hospital with unfamiliar people, many, like doctors and nurses, are in uniform making the student even more afraid

The disability scoop reports:

"…a now-7-year-old with autism known as D.E. was sent to the ER repeatedly as a kindergartner after having tantrums even though he was often calm before the ambulance arrived and his mother asked to take him home instead. On several occasions, the mother and son spent between four and six hours at the hospital before staff determined that the boy did not require emergency services, the lawsuit alleges,"

After these trips parents are receiving bills for hospitalizations, ambulance rides and ER visits. Schools refuse to pay for the treatments, forcing the parents to pay for the unnecessary interventions.

The problem may lie in the fact that many schools are understaffed. Teachers lack aides and other personnel to help them with disciplinary problems, or implementing IEP's. Funding cuts, overcrowded schools, and some school closures mean that many schools struggle with accommodating pupils. The solution, however, does not seem to be sending the difficult students to the Emergency Room.

12 31, 2013
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