Handcuffed in the Classroom
What parents and teachers need to know about ADHD
Video of a deputy sheriff in Covington, Ky., using handcuffs to restrain an 8-year-old boy has ignited a heated conversation nationwide.
According to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Monday, the deputy violated the rights of two children when he shackled the kids around their biceps in the fall of 2014. The boy and a 9-year-old girl had both been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The lawsuit alleges that both children were being punished for behavior related to their disabilities.
ADHD is a common challenge in classrooms across the country. So what should parents and teachers do to prevent a child from becoming too unruly to handle? Lena Zettler, director of Psychology at Cook Children’s, suggests the following:
- Have a plan
- Have a team
- Have an advocate
“What are the steps that will be taken and who are the key people involved? These things should be understood before an emergency happens,” Zettler said. She says it’s important to remember that kids with ADHD most likely aren’t acting up for attention.
“Education is the first step for treatment for ADHD. It’s is a neuro-developmental disorder. It is not a disorder of bad parenting,” says Zettler.
Students with disabilities make up 12 percent of the student population nationally. According to the U.S. Department of Education, they account for 75 percent of the students who are physically restrained by adults in their schools. To prevent such drastic measures from being taken, parents who have a child with ADHD should have a conversation with their child’s teacher about the condition before the school year begins.
Together, parents and school officials need to put a team in place to assist in the child’s education and plan out what will happen when the child acts out.
Parents and school officials also need to designate an advocate, someone the child can turn to for help. The advocate could be an assistant teacher, a counselor or even a principal. By putting a team together and a plan in place, parents can help ensure ADHD children and their classmates get the most out of the school year.
“Taking these steps will not only benefit a child with ADHD, they will help the entire class,” says Zettler.