Why are disabled people always an afterthought?
School Shooter Lockdown Drills and Disabled Students
This post was inspired by my blog readers. Before I start, here are their stories and concerns:
“My son has no idea what to do in an emergency since they used to go in the closet, but his class this year doesn’t have one….. all I can picture now is everyone running away and my son alone in the classroom crying in the corner.”
My son has ASD and said after they barricade the door they are trained to throw items at the shooter – he’s 11. It angers me beyond belief he has to do this. I’m going to meet with his team this week to discuss it. No wonder kids are stressed
I have asked my son (who has high functioning autism) what procedures he is to follow. His perception is that they just go to a corner of the room, did not understand they need cellphones quiet as well as keeping others quiet if they freak out and that if a “teacher” knocks on the door, it’s safe to come out (without looking, questioning, etc.).
I hate hate hate that we have to talk about this. A lockdown drill would not have helped Las Vegas, the SC church or the Pulse nightclub. It’s the damn guns.
Nevertheless, more than 40 states require lockdown drills. And guess what? There’s no proof that they help and in fact can be harmful to our kids’ psyche. But thereyougo, we love our guns in this country, so we keep putting our kids through this so that we can love even more guns.
I was in the same camp too, I guess. Just kinda chugging along hoping it won’t happen here. I don’t think that we can wish for that anymore. Enough of our registered voters believe this is acceptable, or it wouldn’t be this way.
Do school shooter lockdown drills work?
- Do Schools’ ‘Active-Shooter’ Drills Prepare or Frighten?
- Why active shooter training didn’t help in the Florida high school shooting
First question for parents to ask: Must your child participate in drills? If you have reason to believe that this will be detrimental to their health, ask that they be exempted from it.
Shooter Lockdown drills and the disabled child.
This is something we need to think about. We cannot count on the school having had done it already.
As a parent, think of an emergency in your own home.
- carbon monoxide detector goes off
- flash flood
- fracking accident
- pipeline explosion
Now, think of your kids. All of them, but of course the ones who learn differently.
Now, think of what your disabled child needs in order to be safe and respond correctly in an emergency.
What Skills a Disabled Child May Need During an Emergency
- assistance evacuating (blind, wheelchair)
- understanding the importance and gravity of a situation (autism, IDD)
- unable to sit still, hide, be quiet
- inconsolable in a crisis
- unable to follow directions, even “Run!” (autism, IDD, physical disabilities)
- cannot follow multi-step directions “Everyone! Walk quickly to the office and no talking!”
- Does not get social cues, inherent learning, follow what everyone else is doing
Now, apply it to school.
How do they do for fire drills? I have had clients who have specific SDIs pertinent to fire drills.
Inclusion, not an afterthought.
Please tell me why everyone is fawning over this:
How to talk to your school about lockdown drills
First, I would email your school principal. Tell him that you want to speak with him/her about your disabled child and emergency drills. This is not an IEP meeting. There is no need to convene the IEP team.
Offer to meet with a small group, or help organize an information night for special needs parents. I would also strongly consider that this is handled at the district and/or school board level.
Can I add School Shooter Drills to the IEP?
Short answer-of course, yes. However, in an emergency, are staff going to be referring to IEPs? Will they even remember your child’s specific instructions? What if there is a sub that day or your child is not in their regular classroom?
I’d rather see it handled as a school district best practice. It ‘feels’ like there’d be better compliance that way.
Questions to Ask about School Shooter Drills
- Repeat from above: Must your child participate in drills? If you have reason to believe that this will be detrimental to their health, ask that they be exempted from it.
- Can they briefly describe their emergency plan to you?
- Where do the kids go? Where is the “meetup” point?
- How are parents/contacts contacted?
- If there was an emergency, where do they want parents to report? (they’re not going to allow you on campus)
- My child has “xyz disability” and cannot “name a skill that they need for this,” how is staff prepared for students like him? What can I do to help this process?
From there, let their answers guide your follow-up questions.
And please, please, please….contact your State and Federal legislators. This has to change.
WTF? Who DOES THIS—>Westchester School Leaves Behind Disabled Students in Fire Evacuation
And here is an update to that story: New Rochelle School District Slapped with $26 Million Dollar Federal Lawsuit for Failing to Evacuate Wheelchair-Enabled Student
Tips for preparing for school shooter lockdowns
I like this first link because it does include some free videos.
(And before you send me any email reminding me that 2A gives you the right to own a gun, I know. I’m in the camp who believes that we should read and heed all the words of 2A, not just the second part. Unfollow if you must, threatening to do so doesn’t change my opinion on the matter.)