Restrained Autistic 13 year old dies at California school

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ASPartOfMe
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07 Dec 2018, 3:06 am

Teen With Autism Dies Two Days After Being Restrained At El Dorado Hills School

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For 25 years, Guiding Hands School has offered private education to students with special needs, but last week tragedy struck.

A special education student died just days after being restrained in the classroom. It happened at the Guiding Hands School in El Dorado Hills, a private school that’s been open for decades. Authorities are still trying to figure out what led to the teen’s death.

According to the authorities, a 13-year-old boy who suffered from severe autism, stood six feet tall and weighed 280 pounds. The teen was restrained by staff at school after becoming violent.

But while being restrained, he reportedly became unresponsive. Deputies say a teacher performed CPR, but the boy died two days later at UC Davis.

David Gaines is the founder of Sacramento Autistic Spectrum and Special Needs Alliance.

“I know this kind of stuff happens and it’s unfortunate,” said Dave Gaines.

Gaines is also on the autism spectrum and says school staff members are trained on safe ways to restrain students in violent situations.

“I think there are situations where restraint is appropriate people have the right to be protected,” said Gaines.

In a statement released Wednesday by Guiding Hands, school officials say during the incident “…staff needed to utilize a nationally recognized behavior management protocol to address the situation.”

Gaines said, “There’s never anything such as striking, kicking, hitting choking [during restraint]. Those things to my knowledge are never permitted.”

Gaines says each case is different but a typical restraint would involve immobilizing someone by restraining their hands or other parts of their body and using objects in the environment like a wall or floor to minimize movement.

“You’re really looking at protecting the students as well as protecting other people,” Gaines said.

The El Dorado County Sheriff’s office is still investigating the incident but, at this time, they don’t suspect foul play.

“I hope the truth comes out and we know the facts,” said Gaines. ”This could have been an inappropriate situation in which somebody did something wrong, or it could be a very unfortunate, tragic accident.”

The California Department of Education is also investigating the incident and has suspended the school’s certification, which means it can not enroll any new students at this time.


Sheriff’s Office: Teen with Autism Dies after Being Restrained at El Dorado Hills School
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"I would call them an abusive school, honestly," said former student Katie Kaufman.

Kaufman was a student at the school from sixth to eighth grade. She said she remembers being restrained as a form of discipline.

"I mean would get upset or something and they would jump on top of you," Kaufman told FOX40. "Even if it was like you got upset and started cursing, or something, they would just jump on top of you right away thinking you were going to start swinging."

"I've had some parents had some very good experiences," Gaines explained. "I've had parents who have had negative experiences. I've had parents who didn’t want to place their child there after they toured the school."

While there are still a lot of unanswered questions, Kaufman said she doesn’t want anyone else to experience what she went through at her former school.

"They should close it down," she said. "Honestly, I’ve thought that for the longest time."


This school certification was suspended yet the Judge Rotenberg "school" goes on with documented torture. In this case an autistic person is keeping tabs on the sitiuation.


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My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person. - Sara Luterman


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08 Dec 2018, 3:29 am

School where student with autism collapsed and later died violated restraint rules, California regulators find

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A preliminary investigation by the California Department of Education has found the El Dorado Hills private school where a child with autism stopped breathing and later died last week violated several state regulations when they put the teen in a face-down restraint position for an extended period.

The boy, identified by the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office as Max Benson, 13, became unresponsive while in the restraint hold and died a day later at UC Davis Medical Center.

The incident took place Nov. 28 at Guiding Hands School on Windplay Drive, according to the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office. Benson became unresponsive while being held in a ‘prone restraint’ for nearly an hour, according to a source familiar with the investigation.

In a letter sent to the school’s site administrator, Cindy Keller, on Dec. 5 from the California Department of Education and released to The Sacramento Bee through a California Public Records Act request, state regulators found “sufficient evidence” that the facility had violated multiple state rules governing how and when physical restraints can be used on students.

Those violations included using an emergency intervention — the prone restraint — for “predictable behavior,” using an emergency intervention as a substitute for the student’s personally-designed behavior intervention plan and using the restraint for longer than necessary.

The state also found in applying the restraint, school staff used “an amount of force which is not reasonable and necessary under the circumstances.”

Current evidence supports a finding that the staff’s actions were harmful to the health, welfare or safety of the student, the inspection stated.

The state suspended the private facility’s certification as a result of Benson’s death, meaning it cannot accept new students. The school remains open, however.

Benson’s mother, Stacia Langley, declined through a family friend to comment, but referred questions to attorney Seth Goldstein.

“Whenever a disciplinary matter or an action is taken to correct behavior, it has to be reasonable under the circumstances,” Goldstein said. “If it’s unreasonable or unwarranted, it’s an offense.”

Goldstein said contrary to initial reports, Benson was 5-foot-4 and weighed at most 230 pounds. The sheriff’s office said Thursday an emergency call placed by the school during the incident described Benson as 6 feet and 280 pound

Cherilyn Caler of Jackson removed her son from Guiding Hands Thursday after learning that Benson died.

In an interview Friday with The Bee, Caler said her 13-year-old son witnessed the incident that resulted in Benson’s death.

Caler said her son is in Benson’s class and said he witnessed the teacher and teacher’s aid physically restrain Benson. Her son, who is on the autism spectrum, told her that Benson was restrained for a period he described as lasting for hours.

According to the account Calder received from her son, Benson was disciplined for kicking a wall. A second parent of a Guiding Hands student, who asked not be identified, said her child also reported Benson was disciplined for kicking a wall.

Caler said her son told her after Benson stopped moving, the staff told Benson to stop pretending he was sleeping. After about thirty minutes of Benson not moving, the classmate said staff realized Benson was unresponsive and called for medical assistance.

Elk Grove resident Melanie Stark, who pulled her 9-year-old son from the school Thursday, said she had a three-hour meeting with Guiding Hands school administration and an Elk Grove Unified representative on Wednesday to discuss how the school handles her child’s behavior. She has a pending complaint with the DOE about the use of restraints at the school, she said.

Stark said she was concerned that her son was restrained on his first day at the school in September, and disagreed with the school’s method and definition of restraint.

According to Stark, a female teacher’s aid often wrapped her arms and legs around her son so he couldn’t get up from his desk. Stark said the school defined the method as a physical prompt, where a teacher uses physical contact to guide a learner through an activity.

“That was too aggressive, and it was happening about four times a week,” Stark said.

Josh Greenfield, 23, was a student at Guiding Hands until 2013. He said he was restrained twice during his time at Guiding Hands and was frightened by the experiences. Greenfield said he thought the restraints were excessive. Once, he said he was placed in a prone restraint because he ignored a teacher calling his name in a hallway.

Rebecca St. Clair of Folsom, another parent with a child at Guiding Hands, said after hearing that Benson was restrained, she recalled an incident where her son was put in a prone restraint two years ago. She said staff placed him inside a thick gym mat and multiple staff put their weight onto the mat to keep the boy still. She said she was upset by the incident.

“He was on edge and it was digging into his bone,” St. Clair said of her son. “He was crying from the pain, but because he was able to calm down he was released.”

It wasn’t until St. Clair personally witnessed a child being rolled into a gym mat and restrained the week before Benson’s death that she said she realized how “alarming and unsettling” it is, she said.

Advocacy group Disability Rights California determined that prone restraints are hazardous and potentially lethal in a recent report that includes fatal case studies. In its report, it recommends that restraint and containment be “viewed as the result of a treatment failure, not a treatment intervention.”

According to the report, prone containment should never be used for people at risk for positional asphyxiation, including those with obesity and those in an agitated, excited state.

In 2016, the U.S. Department of Education found school restraint and seclusion to be discriminatory in an Oakland case where a boy with autism was restrained 92 times over a period of 11 months. According to a Disability Rights California press release, the nine-year-old student at Anova Center for Education in Concord was held face down by two to three adults for up to an hour and a half at a time. Since then, Oakland Unified School District stopped restraining students with disabilities

Districts around the region contract with Guiding Hands to provide special education and related services to children with special needs, according to its website.

Folsom Cordova Unified officials have been in contact with district’s families that have children at Guiding Hands, and are meeting with them to discuss alternative schools, Thigpen said. Thigpen said the district is not making recommendations about whether to keep or remove children from Guiding Hands.

St. Clair, Caler and Stark said they were not informed of Benson’s death by the school prior to media reports.

“It was pretty obvious that it was becoming public,” St. Clair said. “They were scrambling.”


We talk about how much better it is now then in the 50’s when autistics were institutionalized. Less evil might be a more accurate description. The law says everybody has to be educated so instead of an insane asylum we call it a school for special needs. In this district how it works is that instead of just kicking out kids they don’t want to handle 1960s style they just pan them off to this school


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My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person. - Sara Luterman


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08 Dec 2018, 3:18 pm

The fact that any kid has to go through this makes me sick

The people who do this shouldn't be allowed in society let alone around disabled kids.

Is there any charity or organization focused on stopping this type of abuse?


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08 Dec 2018, 6:18 pm

Arganger wrote:
The fact that any kid has to go through this makes me sick

The people who do this shouldn't be allowed in society let alone around disabled kids.

Is there any charity or organization focused on stopping this type of abuse?


There is a Disability Rights organization in almost every state. One of their main goals is to eliminate seclusion and restraint. Google Disability Rights [your state name].


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08 Dec 2018, 11:29 pm

blazingstar wrote:
Arganger wrote:
The fact that any kid has to go through this makes me sick

The people who do this shouldn't be allowed in society let alone around disabled kids.

Is there any charity or organization focused on stopping this type of abuse?


There is a Disability Rights organization in almost every state. One of their main goals is to eliminate seclusion and restraint. Google Disability Rights [your state name].


All I get are law firms.
Could you get me a name of one in Colorado?


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Diagnosed autistic level 2, ODD, anxiety, dyspraxic, essential tremors, depression (Doubted), CAPD, hyper mobility syndrome
Suspected; PTSD (Treated, as my counselor did notice), possible PCOS, PMDD, Learning disabilities (Sure of it, unknown what they are), possibly something wrong with immune system (Sick about as much as I'm not) Possible EDS- hyper mobility type (Will be getting tested, suggested by doctor) dysautonomia


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08 Dec 2018, 11:38 pm

I did find this, a guide to the CO laws on restraints, and luckily it seems my state is pretty strict on it.
Assuming the law is actually followed through with. Which I have doubts about from my experience with school here.

https://disabilitylawco.org/sites/defau ... ints-2.pdf


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Diagnosed autistic level 2, ODD, anxiety, dyspraxic, essential tremors, depression (Doubted), CAPD, hyper mobility syndrome
Suspected; PTSD (Treated, as my counselor did notice), possible PCOS, PMDD, Learning disabilities (Sure of it, unknown what they are), possibly something wrong with immune system (Sick about as much as I'm not) Possible EDS- hyper mobility type (Will be getting tested, suggested by doctor) dysautonomia


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11 Dec 2018, 3:45 am

Probe into death of student with autism finds school violated rules

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A preliminary investigation into the death of a 13-year-old student with autism at a Northern California private school has found the school violated state rules when its staff put him in a face-down restraint position for nearly an hour. The California Department of Education found "sufficient evidence" that staffers at Guiding Hands School in El Dorado Hills violated multiple state rules governing how and when physical restraints can be used on students, the Sacramento Bee reported.

The boy, identified as Max Benson, became unresponsive while being held in a "prone restraint" for nearly an hour at the school on Nov. 28 and died a day later at UC Davis Medical Center.

Two parents who said their children witnessed the physical restraint told them Benson was disciplined by a teacher and teacher's aide for kicking a wall, the Sacramento Bee reported.

Authorities also had reported Max had severe autism, but Goldstein says that's not true.

"As I understand, he was highly intelligent, very verbal and was not what somebody would call severe," Goldstein said.


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12 Dec 2018, 9:15 am

Arganger wrote:
blazingstar wrote:
Arganger wrote:
The fact that any kid has to go through this makes me sick

The people who do this shouldn't be allowed in society let alone around disabled kids.

Is there any charity or organization focused on stopping this type of abuse?


There is a Disability Rights organization in almost every state. One of their main goals is to eliminate seclusion and restraint. Google Disability Rights [your state name].


All I get are law firms.
Could you get me a name of one in Colorado?


https://disabilitylawco.org/we-may-be-able-help-you

It looks like Colorado is one of the states that has not conformed to the general naming convention of the national organization. I have linked to the page for help. The website is a bit confusing, but if you call the numbers on this page, they should be able to help you.


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12 Dec 2018, 11:49 am

These stories always hit home since I was in special needs school my entire education. I was fortunate that the staff was calm and didn't overreact and restrained students in a firm but gentle way that was aimed towards defusing the meltdown. There were never any kinds of choke holds or anything like that. I don't remember ever seeing a student being pined to the floor.

Image

This one is okay too:

Image

Usually I was just hugged from behind pinning my arms and holding me in place. Which also helped me calm down because of the hugging pressure, like a hug vest is calming. But not like a constricting bear hug.



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17 Dec 2018, 1:51 am

Candle-light vigil remembers El Dorado Hills teen who died after being restrained at school


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11 Jan 2019, 2:59 am

Guiding Hands School Set To Close Following Death Of Student With Autism

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The tragic death of a teen with autism after being restrained inside a classroom is now forcing dozens of other special needs students to find new schools.

The California State Department of Education has revoked certification for the Guiding Hands School in El Dorado Hills after 13-year-old Max Benson died in November. School officials say they will close Friday.

As of Friday, the Department of Education is revoking Guiding Hands’ certification, claiming it used an emergency restraint on Max improperly, with excessive force and for too long.

Now, local educational agencies will not be allowed to use special education funding to pay for students to attend the school.

Guiding Hands School opened in 1993. It will not be able to apply for certification again for the next two years. School officials say they plan to appeal the state’s decision.

Mixed feelings

They say California sets trends for the nation. Hopefully people and institutions being held accountable for abusing autistic children becomes the new normal.

OTOH this is going to be a very abrupt transition for change averse autistic children.


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My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person. - Sara Luterman


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16 Jan 2019, 3:12 am

School where boy with autism was restrained, later died has been investigated by state multiple times

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The El Dorado Hills private school where a boy with autism died after being held face-down by staff for nearly two hours has been investigated before by the state for its use of physical restraints, according to court documents and state records.

Guiding Hands School is currently the subject of three ongoing investigations by the state Department of Education, according to documents filed by the agency with Sacramento Superior Court on Jan. 11.

Weeks before the fatal incident that preceded the death of 13-year-old Max Benson, who allegedly lost consciousness after being held in a face-down position by staff, the CDE was notified by the parent of another student about alleged misuse of physical restraints on her son. In that instance, the CDE investigated and notified the student’s home school district, Elk Grove Unified, that it failed to “ensure emergency interventions were only used to control unpredictable, spontaneous behaviors.” The investigation found physical interventions were used on the boy, whose name was redacted from released records, 61 times in a nearly two-month period.

In January 2018, another CDE investigation of Guiding Hands found the school failed to provide mandated counseling time to a student, and employed a teacher who was not credentialed to teach special education during the 2016-2017 school year. The school’s certification was put on “conditional” status, according to a CDE report mailed to Guiding Hands on Nov. 15.

The ongoing investigations were revealed in a brief written by state lawyers as they fought to keep in place a revocation of Guiding Hands certification issued Jan. 11, a move intended by the state to remove all public school students from the facility. Guiding Hands requested — and received — a temporary restraining order from Sacramento Superior Court Judge Richard K. Sueyoshi allowing it to continue taking public school students for two weeks while the CDE completes its investigation into Max’s death.

“These violations are not limited to one student, one incident, or one staff member,” CDE lawyers said in court documents arguing to keep the decertification in place.

CDE lawyers said the El Dorado County district attorney had also provided the agency with additional information and evidence that gave the CDE “great concern for the welfare of the public school students with disabilities who are currently placed at Guiding Hands School,” according to court documents obtained by The Sacramento Bee.

Nine declarations of support for the school were filed from the principal, administrator, parents, bus drivers and teachers, according to court documents. Some parents said they had no other viable options for their children, some of them who were over 18 years old age. Teachers and drivers said they would no longer receive benefits, and will not be able to pay their mortgages.


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23 Jan 2019, 2:58 am

NorCal School Where Student With Autism Died After Being Restrained Will Close

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An El Dorado Hills school at the center of an investigation over the death of a 13-year-old autistic student announced this week that it plans to close its doors permanently on Friday.


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23 Jan 2019, 3:06 am

Good.



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19 Feb 2019, 2:16 am

Insensitive’: School tied to death of teen with autism faces backlash for throwing a party

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In November, a 13-year-old student with severe autism, Max Benson, died following an incident at Guiding Hands School in El Dorado, Calif. Guiding Hands is now throwing a “going away party” after officially closing its doors in January — and people are reminding those attending to think of Max.

“Everyone who truly spent time at Guiding Hands School knows what a loving, beneficial place it was. Let’s leave it with that same energy!” a GoFundMe for the party read. It added that any past students, parents, teachers or friends who wanted to celebrate the “positive closure” were invited to the Feb. 23 shindig.

Any money raised will go toward “entertainment, refreshments and clean-up for our all-day going away party after having been in business for 26 years and making a positive impact on the lives of special needs students,” according to the page. The fundraiser had raised just over $1,000 as of Monday morning and said “anyone contributing negativity” at the event would be asked to leave.

But the controversy continued when people saw that the school was raising money for its party” — which some critics have slammed as “insensitive” and “demonic.”

“Max is who you should be thinking of right now,” one person commented on the GoFundMe page, before its comment section was suspended. “We tried being pragmatic and seeing both sides — then you decided to throw yourselves a little party to celebrate the sale and your ‘positive closure’ … there are no publicly appropriate words for how disturbed I am with this right now.”

Benson’s teacher uploaded a black-and-white photo of the boy, saying her comments kept being deleted. And another person commented, “I see Guiding Hands is still collecting money for its party. Please remember Max Benson while you’re at it.”


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Identified and joined WP August 26, 2013
DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity

My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person. - Sara Luterman