Sunday 15 September 2019

Autism. School. "No bullying here, nothing to see....move along..."

On the left, small wooden figurines, one with a cross expression. On the right, one small wooden figurine looking afraid.

This week, I read something very strange.

A school, catering for autistic pupils.  Age 3-19.  About 150 pupils. It's run by behaviourists who use a form of ABA (PBS) on the pupils.

I scanned through its policies, noting the ones that list the endless forms of physical restraint they permit:

Friendly escort. Single Elbow. Figure of four. Double Elbow. Single elbow (seated).T Wrap.
T Wrap to seated. T Wrap to ground. Cradle. Front Ground Recovery. Back Ground Recovery .  The list continues.

So,  including face-down restraints that I was under the impression were now pretty much banned after major safety concerns and deaths internationally.

I read the latest OFSTED report for them.  Well, that was five years ago.  But there was a more recent mini report for them from these school inspectors. 

The inspectors said there was no bullying of any kind at all.

And, for me, that was a heartstopping moment.  Not in a good way.

No bullying.
At all

Not from any pupil to any other pupil
Not from anyone.
Not at all, all year, perhaps year after year.


I'm sorry, but I don't believe them.  I want to, but this isn't fairyland.

So what can 'there's no bullying' possibly mean?

That the school staff are clueless about spotting it?
That they are forbidden from recording it, because it makes the school look bad?
That they are choosing not to record it?
That they have recorded it, but the information wasn't given to OFSTED?
That the pupils are terrified of saying they're being bullied?
That the pupils aren't given the means to report bullying?
That the pupils are 'gaslighted' into believing that what happens to them isn't bullying, that it's actually an OK thing to do to them?

That someone outright lied to the inspector?

I would find 'there's no bullying, honest guv' to be the biggest 'red flag' I can imagine.

Wouldn't you?