In a letter sent to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on September 7, the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee called for the establishment of federal regulations limiting restraint and seclusion methods used against people with disabilities in schools, prisons and other settings.
“Utilization of restraint or seclusion should be viewed as treatment failures that exacerbates behavioral challenges and induces additional trauma,” the letter states. “Recent research indicates that contrary to what was previously thought about these practices, there is very little evidence to indicate that seclusion and restraint practices hold therapeutic value.”
The committee called for Congress to create federal regulation requiring states to monitor restraint and seclusion methods in schools. It also recommended that the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services establish regulations for treatment in psychiatric residential treatment facilities and that the government improve data collection and reporting methods of these incidents.
The committee, which provides recommendations to federal agencies and establishes priorities for government-funded autism research, held a meeting in May addressing concerns relating to restraint and seclusion, according to article in Disability Scoop.
The letter cited a recent study estimating that between 50 to 150 people with disabilities die every year as a result of unnecessary restraint and seclusion methods.
A bill to create federal limits on restraint and seclusion methods was introduced in April. A similar proposal passed the House of Representatives in 2010 but failed to progress in the Senate.