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Positive Behaviour S&M

May 14, 2015

I’m still reeling from John Williams’ blog post yesterday. In case you’ve never read it, please check out “My Son’s Not Rainman”. It normally has me laughing up snot. John has been quiet recently and in his latest piece, he explained why. His fantastic 12 year old son has been excluded from school (” a pioneering autism provision”) and an investigation is underway. Like most investigations, people have to become speechless but John did mention the school’s “Spit Hood Policy”.

A school is putting a spit hood on a 12 year old boy with autism as an intervention for challenging behavior. And has a policy about it to give it credence.

Pause and think about that.

Come to think about it, why should we be shocked? Barbaric ” treatment” for people with autism is always rebadged to give it legitimacy. Electric shock treatment has become aversive conditioning. As John points out, face down prone restraint has been turned into “positive handling” and seclusion rooms are now chill out rooms.

Let’s remember that when someone is in meltdown, they are usually experiencing unbearable anxiety and/or terrible fear. And the best way of helping someone frightened out of their skin? Slip a spit hood over their head. Have four people pin them face down on the floor. We’ve really got this empathic response licked, haven’t we.

There is also something darkly sexual about all these practices. And as the person clearly isn’t consenting to being hooded and locked in a padded room, then is this sexually abusive? Pioneering abuse?

I’m too angry to write more. It’s 2015. But these “intervention policies” could have been written by Bram Stoker.

I’d love a conversation with the staff who put a spit hood over a 12 year old boy’s head. I’d like to chat over their humanity and integrity.

Actually, no I wouldn’t. I’d just like 5 minutes in a chill out room with them.


From → Social Care

  1. twittleyjules permalink


  2. Beggars belief 😦

  3. I work in mental health and the only time restraint is used (facedown) is if the person is so violent that it endangers others and only as a last resort, if verbal desculation asking to move to a low stimulus environment , prn has failed. Im shocked that they are even allowed to use a device like this talk about increasing someones anxiety levels and the last thing you want when someone is facedown on the floor is something covering their heads!!

  4. Hi

    I am shocked!

    As a registered expert witness on the use of force with children & vulnerable adults and a health and safety consultant dealing specifically with the care & special education sector I have a few questions. That’s to say the least!

    A “spit hood” would be classed an item of Personal Protective Equipment & work equipment and is therefore covered by PPER and PUWER (provision & use of work equipment regulations).

    Every school BY LAW must appoint someone to be in charge of health and safety, This person by law should hold “relevant professional qualifications” and they should be aware of the associated legislation:

    So looking at the associate laws;

    First of all this is a restriction of liberty, this needs justifying as deprivation of liberty (including sensory deprivation) can amount to torture.

    The major question people should be asking is

    “Is there a least restrictive alternative that would work in the circumstances

    Because if there is then that is what should be used, what has also been done to;

    Eliminate the need for this intervention at all – can we move people away? What is being done to reduce the spitting or the risk of the spitting causing harm?
    Are there any measures in place to isolate the child or staff in the form of a less intrusive barrierany triggers which may instigate the behaviour or prolong the situation and relevant control measures which would avoid the need for the use of this restrictive and potentially dangerous item.

    > The supplier – does it have a CE mark or other equivalent to show it is safe?
    > Is the item fit for purpose and being used for what it was designed to do?
    > What information, instruction and training has been given to staff who are using this equipment (again this is a legal requirement)

    I have a particular interest in this and feel a post coming on myself….

    If anyone has any further input on this if really appreciate it as I have a slot speaking at the TES SEN show in October where I will include a section on this practice.


  5. Magi permalink

    And we think things are improving and attitudes are changing for our children. I couldn’t read all of the blog it upset me too much and made me sick to the absolute pit if my stomach – but what a luxury to be able to defend myself and put my head in the sand.

  6. Anonymum permalink

    My sons old school (specialist autism provider – apparently!!) had a massive ball pit room. When was looking at SN schools for him, I toured it and thought it looked amazing and excitedly thought how wonderful and beneficial it was!! I had all sorts of assurances “the kids use it for fun, for therapy, for sensory experience” etc etc… Then I found out he was being put in there alone when he was being challenging and staff would lean against the door to shut him in whilst he screamed, terrified and clawed at the wood to be let out. They considered it safe because there was a peephole in the door where they could see him!!! Needless to say, I went batsh*t nuts over it and he never went back. This sort of crap is what lead ultimately to his being sectioned aged 7 and a 6 month hospital admission…. Thankfully he doesn’t have anything like that where he is now! These “schools” get away with this under the phrases in the article… And he was unable to tell me, like so many of our kids!

  7. Shirley Buckley permalink

    Mark when someone is in meltdown does holding them in your arms and giving them a huge bear hug whilst reassuring them that all will be OK help or are they too deep in their terrifying world of chaos?

    • I can only reply about our experience and physical reassurance tends to makes Steven worse. I’ve read tons of expert opinion on this over the years but am of the opinion that a meltdown just has to play out – external intervention is pretty pointless. Steven’s meltdowns can be horribly intense and then they suddenly stop. Yesterday is a case in point. Steven went to the dentist at 4pm and had a tooth extracted. That meant he couldn’t have his regular Thursday at 6pm bag of Chopsticks. The change in routine triggered a meltdown which lasted an hour. One minute he was thumping the living room door and literally a minute later he was all smiles singing Sugar Baby Love. I did nothing for the hour except observe and try and stop Steven hurting himself, me and damaging the house. The meltdown would have gone on a lot longer if I’d tried to intervene by either talking to Steven or hugging him.

      • ParentCarer permalink

        I agree with you Mark as he is alreadŷ in a state of anxiety and you Rutherford encroaching on his space will escalate the problem . People trying to restrain my son only heightens his anxiety I leave them to get on and they learn by the error of their ways. I just wait for things to calm down I think with some people it is about power and control in fact they make things worse.

  8. Shirley Buckley permalink

    has anyone read about temple grandin (autistic vet) and her hug machine?

  9. meg permalink

    Hi. I had to look up ‘spit hood’ on google. For children? This is sensory deprivation. It is a form of torture or if looked at more kindly ‘behaviour conditioning’. Barbaric, and in the hands of the untrained, dangerous.
    That there even ARE guidelines for its use in schools, for me, seems entirely wrong.
    This is a young human being for Christsake, not a rabid animal!
    If this were my child I would be getting legal representation and badgering for the school to be charged with neglect, dereliction of duty of care and abuse, both psychological and physical

    • As John wrote in his blog, the reason why he cannot tell the full story is because there is legal action taking place.

    • Marie Camp permalink

      Agree there are some barbaric practices, even the oldfashioned siderooms can leave the autistic to go into a severe panic attack, claustrophobia can be frightening to anyone but especially anyone on the autism spectrum

  10. jaypot2012 permalink

    Too shocked to reply or even speak 😦

  11. Shirley Buckley permalink

    Mark I understand absolutely about Steven’s meltdowns, and that hugs dont help, I guess a meltdown is just a meltdown, and that’s it. My friends son does it, she just has to live through it.

    • I’m sure it’s rough for her, but frankly it’s the person doing the melting down who “just has to live through it.” Obviously, you cannot begin to imagine how awful it is to be inside a meltdown.

  12. Some shocking treatments still persist in 2015! My development of PROACT-SCIPrUk ensures none of these are needed for the children and adults we care for at Loddon School and Liaise – caring for those with autism and challenging behaviour in a special positive supports environment.
    We can offer supports too. We have more than 750 instructors teaching our programme in the UK and internationally.
    Marion Cornick. founder Loddon School.

  13. Truly frightening. We will try to continue home schooling as long as possible. If anyone did this to my precious boy I would not be responsible for my actions. Disgusting.

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