The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities
Promoting Independence, Productivity, Self-Determination, Integration and Inclusion
MNDisability.gov

Positive Behavior Supports

Mike Mayer

Advice for self advocates/families who know a person being restrained or secluded?

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Mike Mayer: The first thing I’m going to suggest is that you check your state rules regarding seclusion and restraint, and then make the state justify to you why that is the only option that is available. Quite honestly, I’m rarely a big fan of running to attorneys. But, unless it was for a very, very brief period of time for an emergency need, to make sure the individual did not seriously harm themselves or others, or did not create, commit a crime, or something along those lines that would have been horrendous, and we’re talking about… and I’m talking about very, very brief periods of time. And, if it’s anything more than that, every state has a protection and advocacy organization that is designed to enforce the rights of people who have disabilities.

And I would strongly encourage you to pick up the phone and to call the protection and advocacy association or organization in your state. Every one of them has a different name. If you just put in P and A, or protection and advocacy into a Google browser and your state’s name, it will come up. I promise. And I would call and say, “This is what’s going on and we want it stopped.” Or, “This is what went on and we want to make sure it doesn’t happen again.” I would also say that the next thing you have to do is to say, “And I want to make sure that there have no lasting traumatic events or experience that is going to affect this person that I care about on a long-term basis.”

We are learning about trauma-informed care or trauma-informed services. We’re learning that every time we’re isolated, every time we’re restrained, every time we’re forced to do something that we don’t want to do, every time that we are raped, or whatever it is, that it affects the way our brain works. It affects the way we respond to stress, it affects the way we respond to acetylcholine and epinephrine and norepinephrine and all these other chemicals that are running around inside of us that most of us have never heard of. It affects the way our endocrine system works. It affects the way our frontal lobe works. It affects all these things.

And what we’re learning is that people who have had these experiences tend to go into crisis faster, they tend to stay there longer, they tend to go there more often, and they tend to recover slower. And they tend to have other secondary issues that come out of the primary trauma. It’s part of the reason I’m so opposed to isolation and restraint because, in my world, I see it as another trauma. I see it as another thing being done to somebody that they didn’t want to have done.

So recovery from those things is an important… just as important as making sure it doesn’t happen again. Making sure that we help the person who’s been through that feel that they can trust, be able to relax, be able to not have to be hyper vigilant. That every time they do something that they don’t understand, that somebody’s going to run in and want to do something to them. I don’t know about you, but I would think that looking over your shoulder all the time would be stressful, just by itself, regardless of whatever else is going on in your life. People who have intellectual disabilities shouldn’t have to be looking over their shoulder to wonder if something is going to tick off somebody enough that they’re going to have another trauma-induced experience.

So stop it. Prevent it from happening again. And make sure that they get good care.

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The GCDD is funded under the provisions of P.L. 106-402. The federal law also provides funding to the Minnesota Disability Law Center, the state Protection and Advocacy System, and to the Institute on Community Integration, the state University Center for Excellence. The Minnesota network of programs works to increase the IPSII of people with developmental disabilities and families into community life.