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A 'Nationally Recognized Protocol,' an Autistic Teen's Death

Was it appropriate to use 'prone restraint' in this situation?
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 7, 2018 11:30 AM CST
Prone restraint is banned in schools in several states.   (Getty Images/maroke)

(Newser) – A private California school has had its certification suspended and an investigation is underway after an incident last month that left a special needs teen dead. The Sacramento Bee reports on what's said to have transpired Nov. 28 at Guiding Hands School in El Dorado Hills, when a 13-year-old student who cops say was severely autistic reportedly became violent, prompting staff to place him in what's called a "prone restraint," in which the person is held facedown. An El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office rep says the boy, who was 6 feet tall and about 280 pounds, became unresponsive while in this position, and staff tried to administer CPR before help arrived. Per CBS Sacramento, the boy died at UC Davis Medical Center two days later.

Using this type of restraint can be legal in some cases in California, though it's been banned in schools in several other states. A disability rights attorney tells the Bee if the move isn't done correctly, it "can cause trauma and death," as the positioning can keep oxygen from circulating. The school was sued nearly 15 years ago for using this type of restraint, and a former student tells FOX40 she left the school after eighth grade due to what her family thought was overuse of this type of response. A Guiding Hands statement announced the teen's death "with heavy hearts," adding that staff used "a nationally recognized behavior management protocol" and that an investigation continues. (A teacher says her Colorado school district didn't protect her from an autistic student.)

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