When my daughter started working in the human services field, I told her to imagine that every interaction was being videotaped. At the end of the day, if she could be proud and let that video play unedited on the nightly news, then consider the day a success; if editing is required then she better figure out how to do better next time. Of course, I know my daughter and didn’t ever have to worry about any editing of abusive behavior, but the actions during a crisis that are considered acceptable are not universally the same.

A 2013 study by the Autism National Committee found that:

• Only 13 states limit the use of restraint to emergencies
• Only 20 states prohibit restraint that restrict breathing
• Only 30 states require that parents be notified if their child was restrained or secluded at school.

Sadly, I have seen the videos of students restrained by other methods, or locked up in seclusion rooms, demoralized, traumatized, considered less than human. It is time for all to get back to the basic principle that everyone has the right to be respected. For example, no one wants to be called out and ridiculed in front of others. This action simply makes a tense situation worse, because now the individual is still upset and also wants revenge, and too regain “face” with peers. We should all learn to stop, think, and consider feelings before a knee jerk reaction that causes emotional or physical harm. T

The bottom line, we need to be the positive influence and calming voice for those whom we serve. I have heard stories from individuals that were considered non-verbal that suffered for years; trying to reach out and communicate needs but their actions were misinterpreted as behavior problems, they were overlooked as stupid, and uneducable, but one day taught a communication system the world finally could hear their “voice” .

Think about all the interactions you have had in your career? Would you be worried if one of your past students finally found a “voice”? I hope that the Mandt philosophy and skills resound in your heart to treat all individuals with dignity and respect, so that, you would be excited not worried about what any student might have to say.

Randel C Goad – Mandt Faculty Supervisor