I delivered this letter to the Superintendent of Schools at the Board of Education office in our town this afternoon. I've removed names and some other details.
Dear [name of Superintendent of Schools],
My name is Kristina Chew and I am the mother of Charles Fisher, who is 12 years old and attends [public middle school in New Jersey]. Charlie is on the autism spectrum and is currently in a self-contained autism classroom; his teacher is [name].
My husband, James Fisher, and I have requested that Charlie's Child Study Team meet to hold an Emergency Meeting. We were shocked to discover, in Incident Reports dated September 9, 10, and 11, that a "four person floor control" was being used on our son. We did not receive copies of these reports until September 25th, over two weeks after these restraints had been used on Charlie. (The reports were mailed in an envelope postmarked September 24th.) Prior to receiving these reports, we had not been informed---via emails or other communication from Charlie's teacher and case manager, [name], or from [name of Supervisor of Special Services] --- that such "four person floor control" restraints were being used on Charlie.
On September 28th, I emailed [Charlie's case manager] and requested an Emergency Meeting. On September 29th, [Charlie's case manager] emailed me that the district feels that such a meeting "is not warranted at his [sic] time." While my husband and I had met with the district on September 25th for an 8am re-evaluation meeting, we did not receive the Incident Reports reporting the "four person floor control" until the afternoon of September 25th, and thus were not able to address this very serious matter at the meeting. [The Supervisor of Special Services] has repeatedly stated that the district is concerned about the "safety" of our son and we much appreciate this. However, the use of a restraint such as "four person floor control" leaves us with many concerns, and all the more so because no one told us about such restraints at the time they were used, and let over two weeks pass before we were informed.
Charlie is currently being followed by a neurologist, [name], of the [name of neurological practice]. Various medical and neurological health issues have arisen in our discussions with [Charlie's neurologist]. We do not understand why the [name of our town] School District did not inform us about the use of a "four person floor control" in a timely fashion, in order to address Charlie's known and yet unknown health concerns.
I am a well-regarded advocate for autism and individuals with autism, both in the US and aboard. I have appeared on Good Morning America and the Today show to speak about autism (indeed, Charlie made brief appearances on both of these shows). I have been interviewed by, and quoted and/or referenced in, Newsweek, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and other national and regional media outlets. Since June of 2005, I have been writing online in various blogs about autism and our life with our son Charlie. My current blog, We Go With Him, receives several hundred visitors a day and can be found at:
Again, my husband, James Fisher, and I request that Charlie's Child Study Team meet to hold an Emergency Meeting as soon as possible to discuss these very serious matters. We would more than appreciate your assistance in facilitating this request.
Thank you very much.
Kristina Chew, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Classics
Director, Special Scholarships and Graduate Study
Saint Peter's College
2641 Kennedy Boulevard
Jersey City, NJ 07306
http://kristinachew.com ~ We Go With Him blog http://autism.typepad.com