California’s protection & advocacy system
For legal assistance call 800-776-5746. For all other purposes call 916-504-5800 in Northern CA
or 213-213-8000 in Southern CA. TTY 800-719-5798.
Sam, a well-behaved 11 year old with autism, did not wish to participate in the classroom yoga activity. As punishment, he was told to sit at his desk with his head down – for an hour! A classroom aide, shocked by what happened next, surreptitiously recorded her colleague repeatedly restraining Sam.
The video recording shows Sam, distracted by the yoga activity, was having a hard time remaining still with his head down. To compel his compliance, a classroom aide repeatedly restrained Sam, forcing him to remain seated sit at his desk with his head down.
On the video, Sam is seen crying and becoming increasingly distressed as he lifts his head and shifts in his chair, and attempts to mimic the yoga positions from his desk. The aide responds by pushing Sam’s head back down, repeatedly pinning his arms to the desk, leaning onto Sam’s head and shoulders to keep his head on his folded arms, and pulling him off the floor and forcing him back into a sitting position. Sam can be heard whimpering, sobbing, coughing, and muttering to himself throughout the recording. Sam’s behavior never posed a risk of harm to himself or others – he just wanted to join in.
Sam’s family didn’t know what had happened or why Sam was suddenly scared to go to school until they received an anonymous copy of the video in their mailbox from the aide who shot the video from her cellphone.
Donate to DRC and end the use of restraint and seclusion in schools – practices that traumatize and injure children.