My daughter, Laura, often becomes anxious in environments that she cannot cope with. Because she has a sensory processing disorder, as is often the case for people with severe or complex needs, she can find her surroundings and contexts (lights, noise, people, unfamiliarity, bad night’s sleep…) more stressful than your typical person. Furthermore, Laura cannot easily communicate her frustration and discomfort to those around her. This leaves her with only one option – acting with her behaviour to try to escape the situation.
Sadly, in many cases, the training for those supporting individuals like Laura is grossly inadequate; leaving staff without the necessary skills and knowledge to recognise the triggers and function of behaviour. Even worse, the misunderstandings that are perpetuated, due to a lack of correct guidance, frequently result in the use of forceful restraint as a form of control and even punishment.
As a family we have spent many years working with the professionals to create an evolving Positive Behaviour Support plan for Laura, helping her support staff understand what she is communicating with her behaviour and why; keeping her safe and happy. We want to see all those in similar need receive such care, as it is everyone’s right to live free from pain and fear.
On March 17th 2015, myself and Ian Hood (Learning Disability Alliance) supported Beth Morrison and her petition, PE 01548 National Guidance on the Use of Restraint and Seclusion in Schools, in the Scottish Parliament.
Effective guidelines have to be written not just by policy makers, but those who have expertise in this area. National guidance will stop local authorities developing their own ad hoc policies in responding to “behaviours that challenge” which often result in injuries to the child and low staff morale.
We need careful monitoring and accountability when any form of restraint or seclusion is used. Our current draft in place at present fails to adequately address the needs of children with learning disabilities. Hopefully the Scottish parliament will continue to support this important petition, and lead the way in taking it to legislation – making Scotland a place where children with “Learning Disabilities” can get the best out of life.
“Why do they hurt?” – video: