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  • Writer's pictureSarah Lewis, M.Ed., BCBA

Why We Avoid Restraints and Seclusion

At the Autism Center of Sauk Valley, our approach to working with children on the autism spectrum emphasizes dignity, safety, and effective interventions. One aspect of our methodology is the avoidance of restraints and seclusion. Here are a few key points explaining why we prioritize alternative strategies:


Treating children with respect

Respect for Autonomy and Dignity: We believe that every individual, regardless of their challenges or disabilities, deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Using restraints or seclusion can be highly distressing and traumatic for children with autism. It not only undermines their autonomy but also risks causing physical and psychological harm. Our goal is to empower our children by teaching them coping skills and alternative behaviors that enable them to navigate challenging situations without resorting to restrictive measures.


Building prosocial skills

Emphasis on Skill Building and Functional Alternatives: Maladaptive behavior such as aggression and self-injurious behavior may be an indicator of a skill deficit, especially as it relates to communication and social skills. Rather than focusing solely on behavior suppression, we prioritize skill-building and functional alternatives. Restraints and seclusion do not teach functional alternatives to maladaptive behavior. Our programming incorporates a range of evidence-based strategies such as functional communication training. These interventions are tailored to each child's unique strengths, needs, and preferences, fostering meaningful progress and enhancing their quality of life. By teaching adaptive skills and addressing the root causes of behavior, we empower our children to thrive in various environments and lead fulfilling lives.


treating autistic children ethically

Ethical Considerations: Restraints and seclusion are highly regulated practices with significant ethical implications. As ABA professionals, we adhere to the principles of ethical conduct outlined by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) and other relevant guidelines. These standards prioritize the welfare and safety of individuals with autism and emphasize the use of least restrictive interventions. By avoiding restraints and seclusion, we uphold our ethical responsibilities while promoting a safe and supportive environment for our children and their families.


working with families to develop and Behavior Intervention Plan

Collaborative Approach with Families and Caregivers: Our philosophy is rooted in collaboration and partnership with families and caregivers. We recognize that effective intervention requires a team effort that includes ongoing communication, shared goal-setting, and mutual trust. It is also important that we use behavior support strategies that can be implemented by caregivers outside of therapy sessions. When addressing challenging behaviors, we work closely with families to develop individualized behavior support plans that align with their values, preferences, and cultural considerations. By involving families as active participants in the intervention process, we enhance the consistency and effectiveness of our strategies while promoting a holistic approach to treatment.


The decision to avoid restraints and seclusion at the Autism Center of Sauk Valley is guided by a commitment to ethical, evidence-based practices that prioritize the well-being and development of our children with autism. Through positive behavior support, collaborative partnerships, and a focus on skill-building, we strive to create a nurturing and inclusive environment where every child can reach their full potential.

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