IL District Denies Non-Verbal Autistic Student Appropriate Camera Accommodation and Autism Training for Staff

If Illinois law states that we can put a camera in our elderly loved one’s long-term care facility, why can’t disabled children get one in their classroom?

You can mount as many cameras as you want in an elderly person’s residential facility room, but heaven forbid you to ask the same from your public school for your child.

If someone is denied a part of their voice, isn’t that discrimination?

If you have a nonverbal child, the camera serves as your child’s voice.

Unfortunately, my son’s district thinks the camera is not part of his voice to help with his education. They also can’t see how they are complicit in systemic ableism.

When an able-bodied person makes decisions they think are best for a disabled person based on their neurotypical experience, they are being ableist.

The term ‘ableist’ generally means to discriminate against someone based on their disability.

My son has a life-long battle against ableism ahead of him.

Why won’t the district support my son in a world with the odds stacked against him?

Not only do I feel our district is violating my son’s access to a Fair and Appropriate Education, but they deny a camera for him, which serves as his voice and appropriate accommodation to access his public education.

The director even mocked my request by asking me if I expect a “live feed” of his room to log onto anytime.

While that should be offered to ALL parents, as our taxes fund the school OUR CHILDREN are in, I’m merely asking for a safety camera so we can rewind and recapture an incident.

Texas, Georgia, and West Virginia all have laws in place to allow cameras in special education classrooms.

Why is Illinois so far behind in protecting non-verbal Autistic children?

Last week, my non-verbal Autistic son suffered a severe head injury requiring an ambulance ride, ER trip, and stitches.

When I asked the school to see the hallway camera footage where my son was injured, the cameras weren’t in working order.

Naturally, the room where I had my IEP meeting (library) had working cameras. As did the front of the building. How convenient for the teachers. But what about nonverbal kids?

The public schools are failing our nonverbal children.

My son’s aide was unable to tell us what exactly caused the severe head injury. Something no parent should ever have to deal with.

When your child is non-verbal, it’s an extra punch to the gut as your child can’t communicate the trauma experienced.

Why can’t we take steps to protect our most vulnerable young children and offer them a voice?

In Illinois, there is something known as the Eavesdropping Act.

The Eavesdropping Act prevents Illinois public schools from audio recording teachers.

How convenient that teachers have a law to protect themselves!

What about our children without a voice?

How are we protecting them?

It appears that Illinois is trying to make progress in the special education field, recently banning seclusion in Illinois.

However, when I asked my school if they use seclusion, they immediately said they have a “calm room.”

Timeouts, the team reassured me, are legal.

I was affirmed that my son was never taken to the blue padded room.

But I still demanded to see it.

The long walk had one lone tear streaming down my face onto the mask the district forced onto my face.

How could the school I trust with my nonverbal son have a padded room used for timeouts?

The principal is new to the school, and I was thankful she showed me the “calm room.”

I could tell the mats on the wall had been recently replaced. Yet, they still had two noticeable scratch marks on them.

After my meeting, I took my son to his favorite forest for a run by the pond.

The sun was low in the sky, and I marveled at how sweet and innocent he looked in the late afternoon glow.

With his stitches still visible, I vowed to never let my son be without a voice in a crisis situation ever again.

Later that evening, my son assured me with his AAC device that he’s never been to the “calm room.”

My meeting today opened one big can of worms regarding the treatment of nonverbal Autistic children.

Why do these rooms exist, yet we can’t provide the children that use them an accommodation of a camera to tell their side of the story?

Furthermore, why isn’t more specific Autism training offered to all staff?

My district just went through “Equity as an Imperative” training on their last staff institute day, 11/2.

I guess Autism training isn’t a high priority.

Equity only matters in regards to culture, not a disability, it seems.

You see, our district feels their current training is sufficient for my son, yet that very training sent the school into a crisis, and a head injury to boot.

One that could have easily been prevented with adequate, supplemental training.

During the big head injury event, my son needed to be restrained by two individuals.

Thank the Lord, the school nurse had training outside of the school, as she informed me this is where she received all her experience.

Plus, a well-trained aide would have been able to prevent my son’s accident in the first place.

And cameras would have allowed my son to have a voice in this traumatic experience in his little life.

Why haven’t we passed legislation to make cameras mandatory in every special education room?

Furthermore, why hasn’t anyone made steps to mandate cameras in special education rooms for nonverbal children?

As a parent to a nonverbal Autistic, it makes me wonder what they do behind closed doors that the school boards and the state don’t want us to see.

Check out the original article on seclusion rooms from the Pro Publica Illinois report here.

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