One might suppose, given the pervasiveness of autism among school-aged children (which the CDC estimates at 1 in 110), that between school teachers, administrators and police, someone would have a clue how to appropriately deal with a 9 year old autistic child who has a melt down. But if it happens in Quincy, Illinois, you would be out of luck.
After all, you can never call the police too early or too often. Schools are required to create and adhere to a Behavioral Intervention Plan for special needs children, though it still leaves far too much to the discretion of school officials. On the other hand, the police are under no similar obligation.
The incident began when Roger Parker, Jr. had some sort of unpleasant experience which lead to an outburst, where the teachers had difficulty keeping him under control.
They tried to isolate him in some kind of time out area, which probably made the situation even more scary and confusing for him. When he tried to get out of this time out area by climbing a dividing wall police were already there to attempt to subdue him.
The boy’s mother arrived at the police station, where she was denied access to her son for 45 minutes.
At that point police officer Calkins ripped the child from the wall by his limbs like a ragdoll, causing his face to smash against the wall, which resulted in a massive black eye . He was then wrestled to the ground by police and taken into custody.
The boy was detained and booked for aggravated battery against a police officer and his family was denied access to him for a certain period of time.
Forty-five minutes later, after they told me he did not need a parent present because he was under arrest and not being interrogated. He was fingerprinted, photographed, and booked for aggravated battery to a police officer.”
Jesse James, move aside. Baby Face Parker’s the new outlaw in town.
Kirchner said she is upset because she recently discussed a plan on how to handle her son if he has an outburst.
You would think the black eye caused by her child being smashed into a wall would upset her as well.
The law requires schools to place special needs students in the “least restrictive environment,” meaning that schools keep them in mainstream classrooms with non-special needs students if at all possible. This has its good and bad points, as these students aren’t segregated in schools where they are hidden away. However, they still need special care, both in their education and their behavior. These aren’t evil children, but kids with disabilities that require special attention.
Autistic children have been the subject of numerous posts here and elsewhere, and there is a pathetic history of police officers called in by administrators who are utterly incapable of handling them appropriately. While training for police in the handling of special needs children is available in some quarters, it’s obviously not sufficient. That there is yet another story of a cop man-handling and harming a special needs child is outrageous.
It is bad enough that the unnecessary use of force on adults persists as a matter of police training and culture. It is unacceptable when the target of force is a child. It is outrageous when that child is a special needs child.
While this is clearly the case with the police officer’s harming the child, the problem begins with the school’s calling in police rather than executing the behavioral plan. There is no information to suggest that any teacher or student was at risk of harm from the student. He was likely very disruptive and non-compliant, with no doubt annoyed the teacher to no end, but that’s part of the deal with special needs children in a mainstream classroom.
Between the teacher and school administrators, were they so incapable of addressing a 9 year old having a tantrum that they needed armed intervention? Was it impatience? Was it annoyance? Were they inadequately trained in the handling of a special needs child that it was just easier to make it someone else’s problem?
Like it or not, these are our children. Some have special needs. In fact, a lot do. Nobody asked for it, and no parent wants it to be the case, but they’re here and have to be dealt with. For crying out loud, suffer the annoyance and calm them down. Suffer the disruption and deal with it afterward. Under no circumstances is a cop smashing a 9-year-old into a wall the solution to the problem.
These are children. Stop harming them. All of you.