Thesun.ie: Five-year-old non-verbal boy with autism strapped to chair at waist and ankles at school in Northern Ireland

‘tethered like an animal’

The boy was restrained despite having no special physical needs while his classmates where able to move and play freely

A FIVE-year-old boy with autism was strapped to a chair at his waist and ankles at a school in Northern Ireland.

The child was restrained despite having no special physical needs while his classmates where able to move and play freely.

The boy was restrained at the waist and ankles (stock image)

Getty – Contributor

The boy was restrained at the waist and ankles (stock image)

The boy’s mum told Belfast Live: “Our son was tethered like an animal.

“We didn’t realise what had been going on until he actually managed to show us himself.

“Our son is autistic and non-verbal, but until this started happening he’d always been happy and cheerful and very easy company.”

The parents say they had no idea that he was being restrained, and that they had never been asked or given permission for their son to be restrained.

The boy started to behave strangely at home

Alamy

The boy started to behave strangely at home

When they were told by other parents that they had seen the boy being wheeled around in a chair, they asked the school, who denied it.

She added: “Quite suddenly his personality changed and for the best part of a year we were going rapidly downhill.

“He was tortured, demented. I was really concerned he was going out of his mind.

“He was so distressed and agitated, having panic attacks, suffering night terrors and he was tearful and acting very strangely, a totally different little boy to the one we knew and he couldn’t tell us why.”

The boy’s parents finally worked out that their child was being restrained when he pointed out pictures of him strapped to a chair stuck into his school scrapbooks.

His mum said the revelation 10 months ago was like a “fog lifted” and they could finally explain their son’s “broken spirit”.

She then contacted social services and his psychiatrist and explained the situation which she believed was a child protection matter and an abuse of her son physically.

The boy is autistic and non-verbal (stock image)

Getty – Contributor

The boy is autistic and non-verbal (stock image)

Social services then made a complaint to the PSNI and wrote to the boy’s psychiatrist stating: “We fear [the child] suffered willful or neglectful failure to prevent injury and suffering, and confinement defined as physical abuse under Social Services procedure.”

When they contacted the school, the parents were told the school just wanted to keep him safe, but didn’t issue an apology or assurance that it would not happen again.

The boy, who recently turned seven, was taken out of the school and home-schooled by his parents, where he slowly recovered enough to return with different teachers.

The parents of the child say they have been left in limbo after making official negligence and breach of duty complaints to the school, Education Authority and the Department of Education.

Human rights lawyer Kevin Winters has taken on the case, and said that the core concern is that there was no communication with the parents, and that the child has suffered emotionally.

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A spokesperson for the National Association of Head Teachers, representing the principal at the school, said: “There is an on-going investigation into these allegations. Our member is complying fully with the investigation.”

A spokesperson for the Education Authority said: “In order to protect the confidentiality of the child, EA cannot comment on circumstances relating to specific children.”

A PSNI spokesman said: “The matter has been reported and is being investigated.”

Read the full article at the original source

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