Psychology. Education. Advocacy. Research.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Video cameras "speak" for children with disabilities!

Our little girl was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder when she was 3-years old.  From the time of her diagnosis to the present, I have turned down paid employment to homeschool her.  In November 2011, I began writing my dissertation, so we decided to place her in a public school setting.  As many parents have stated, I also thought things were going well and there was nothing to be concerned about.  Even with that being the case, I still chose to begin a petition asking the Texas State legislature to introduce legislation that would require the installation of video cameras in all public school special education classrooms.  Why?  One word: Insanity.

In all honesty, I try to keep sanity as the supreme mental faculty in my mind by staying far away from the horrible expressions of mankind.  Expressions of torture, violence, beating, verbal abuse, involuntary restraint, and the like.  However, recently I felt a tug on my heart to "step a little harder into the throes of reality".  I decided to read the many comments responding to varying news articles on the fervent and merciless abuse of children with special needs.  The comments ran along a very depressing spectrum filled with pain, anger, and distrust in a system that is suppose to serve, teach, and protect our children.  As I read through the comments patterns of helplessness prevailed.  Parents and caregivers feel there is nothing they can do to stop abuse.  Many parents and caregivers feel cheated and outright disrespected because many of the individuals that abused their children are still in the same system (but strategically placed at another school).  Parents and caregivers are battling with mounting anxieties directly related to being "in the dark" about what is going on in their child's classroom.  Things must change! Petition: Give Autistic Children A "Voice".

Sadly, it is not a new revelation that individuals with mental health and developmental disorders are being abused.  Actually, the deeply carved patterns within the annals of history boldly state, "Abuse will occur among this population!"  Thankfully, social change directives like the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA of 1990) have put forward laws and guidelines relating to abuse and mishandling individuals with special needs.  (I would like to stop here and personally thank Senator Tom Harkin the author of the IDEA and the ADA of 1990.  He is also the author of the newly introduced  Keep All Students Safe Act.)

Yesterday, May 7, 2012, a special education attorney informed me that there are no laws against putting cameras in special education classrooms.  Actually, in the state of Texas, this decision is up to the school districts.  So why must parents continue to battle through mounting anxieties related to not knowing what is going on in the classrooms of their special needs children?  The reigning response has been confidentiality and privacy issues.  I was a little confused the first time I heard this response because I know in most public schools there are closed-circuit camera systems.  Not only that, but there are also cameras on most public school buses.  So why is it such an issue to install one more video camera in a special education classroom?

Cameras in special education classrooms allow parents and professionals to observe children's behaviors.  Cameras in special education classrooms protect the teachers and the children.  Cameras in special education classrooms give a "voice" to children that are not able to verbally express themselves.  One extra camera will give documented proof of daily activities which will decrease the chance of future allegations.  Sounds like a win-win to me!

Join us in the fight to have cameras installed in ALL special education classrooms by signing this petition.  United we will stand.  Petition: Give Autistic Children A "Voice"! 

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