Did you know that students with disabilities are twice as likely to be suspended as their peers and that they account for over 2/3 of students that are secluded or restrained while at school? These figures were compiled from data on more than 50 million students during the 2013-14 school year and reported by the Department of Education. (source: Disability Scoop). In addition, the DOE has just issued a 16 page letter with guidelines for consideration with discipline actions for children in special education. Although non- binding and does not impose new legal ramifications, the Department issued the letter to help provide LEA’s (Local Educational Agencies) with more information in understanding and meeting their obligations under IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Act.. the federal law that governs special education). As the new education law ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) replaces the old ESEA and NCLB (No Child Left Behind) there is additional emphasis on providing what is now termed MTSS or Multi-Tiered Support System to address the needs of struggling students both academically and with social/ emotional and behavior skills. As we speed toward the coming school year with new laws and guidelines emerging we remain hopeful our students with special needs get treated with the fairness, respect and dignity that all students deserve.
Check out these resources for more information and support:
American Occupational Therapy Association: AOTA School Mental Health Toolkit
Is it Sensory or Is It Behavior? Reference book
And be sure to visit our website for ideas on MultiSensory Environments which can be used in schools for calming/quiet/regrouping spaces that may help promote sensory self-regulation as part of a multi-disciplinary approach to learning and behavior.