A descriptive study of the use of restraint and seclusion in a special education school

V. Susan Villani, Aaron E. Parsons, Robin P. Church, John T. Beetar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: The literature regarding the use of restraint and seclusion in schools is scant, perhaps due to the controversial nature of the topic. With few exceptions, schools have not published policies or data regarding these procedures even when doing so would further the discussion about standards for staff training, student safety, and benchmarks for ongoing improvement. Objective: The present descriptive study details how a special education school approached the problem of maintaining safety for its lower, middle, and high school students, the majority of whom have autistic spectrum disorders. Its purpose was to describe the monitoring of crisis intervention episodes in a large educational day facility and to report occurrence and duration data of restraint and seclusion. Methods: Data comparing student gender and Federal Census Code classifications in the lower/middle school and high school across two time periods were tabulated. The number and duration of restraint and seclusion episodes from 2002 to 2007 in each school were summarized. Results: Examination of 6 years of aggregate crisis management data revealed that lower/middle school students are restrained more frequently than high school students. Duration rates of both restraint and seclusion were variable regardless of setting, a finding consistent with available studies, mostly from inpatient and residential settings. Conclusions: The authors concluded that most children and adolescents with aggressive and self-injurious behaviors can be safely managed in a day school setting. The present analysis of aggregate crisis intervention data may represent the first benchmarks for comparison with other special education programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-309
Number of pages15
JournalChild and Youth Care Forum
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Crisis management
  • Restraint
  • School
  • Seclusion
  • Special education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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