Beth’s son, Calum has complex additional support needs including Epilepsy.
At the end of Primary 5, Calum started a brand new “special school”
From the very first day in his new class there were problems. Calum came home with bruises and marks on his body that he did not receive at home.
Beth and her husband were told Calum had been “restrained” by staff who had held him in a floor hold after he had “lashed out at staff”. During the restraint, Calum urinated, only then, did the staff release their hold on him, but they made him sit on a chair (still in urine-soaked clothes) then showed him an egg timer to indicate he was being punished in “time out”
Calum had no understanding of the concept of “time out” or “punishment.”
Calum had a lot of bruising as well as something called “petechial haemorrhaging” on his chest. His parents took him straight to the doctor who made a report to “child protection”
Despite this, none of the staff were held accountable for their actions.
After many years of research into the use of restraint and seclusion, Beth campaigned tirelessly for guidance. Her campaign went as far as The UNCRC in Geneva and she successfully petitioned The Scottish Government asking for new guidance for schools. This was published in June 2017.
Beth also begun her own training in “Positive Behaviour Support” (PBS) she realised that this was a real alternative to restraint and seclusion.
Beth’s vision is for PABSS to advocate and promote the use of PBS to families and professionals plans for children with complex needs.
The Communication Passport is written in conjunction with families who know their children better than anyone. This passport will give information on the child’s condition, how it affects them AND, most importantly how they communicate. It also incorporates an individual PBS plan.
All behaviour happens for a reason, it is a form of communication. Understand that the child is trying to tell you something. Usually it is about unmet needs, anxiety, sensory over/under stimulation. Respond in a proactive way, meeting the needs of the person and respecting their human rights is good practise. This will reduce behaviour considered challenging and enhance the quality of life for the person.
As for Calum, he was removed from his “special school” and returned to an Angus Mainstream school, ASN Department, where he spent the last four years of his education being supported by staff who used Positive Behaviour Support strategies. There was no use of restraint or seclusion rooms. Many thanks to all the staff and students at Carnoustie High School.
Now, Beth makes sure that everyone is aware of Calums communication passport and his PBS plan. He has not been subjected to any kind of physical intervention since. He is thriving, but most of all, he is HAPPY!
Well Done Calum!