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Autistic brothers strapped to chairs from school win £80k and apology

Five Acre Wood, a special needs school in Maidstone, Kent, has admitted breaching its own guidelines and government guidelines by repeatedly strapping two autistic twins, Samuel and Jacob Montague, to chairs to restrict their movement

Kent County Council has offered the parents of Samuel and Jacob Montague (pictured) - who are both severely autistic and non-verbal - for £80,000 in compensation after a civil court case
Kent County Council has offered the parents of Samuel and Jacob Montague (pictured) – who are both severely autistic and non-verbal – for £80,000 in compensation after a civil court case

A school that repeatedly strapped two autistic students to chairs to restrict their movement has apologized after a court ruled it violated their human rights.

Five Acre Wood, a school for children with special educational needs, has admitted to violating its own policy and government guidelines by using mechanical restraints on twins Samuel and Jacob Montague.

The twins, who are both severely autistic and non-verbal, started school in 2009 at the age of four with the intention of attending until the age of 19. They are both 17 years old now.

But their parents Annie and Mark pulled them out in 2013 after noticing staff strapping the boys to chairs despite objections and protests.

Kent County Council, which runs the school in Maidstone, has offered her parents more than £80,000 in compensation after a civil court case.

Now Annie and Mark are calling for changes in the law to make it clearer that the coercive measures should not be used against children like Samuel and Jacob.






The twins were tied up – which is against school policy and government guidelines

In a statement released after the settlement, they said: “Children with special educational needs should be protected and not strapped to chairs.

“It has been a long, difficult process, but it has been our privilege to be the voice for Samuel and Jacob.

“You and other children with autism or learning disabilities deserve the full protection of the law.

“Local authorities should be on their side and empower their lives instead of using restrictive practices like restrictions that can cause trauma and damage.

“Now that the case is closed and Samuel and Jacob are safe and doing well, we look forward to the campaign to stop the use of restraints on children with special educational needs.”

The first public incident happened in 2010 when the boys were wheeled out to a school concert, strapped to the “hard rock” chairs.

The chairs restrict movement through a series of straps that go around the legs, arms, and shoulders.

When their parents objected, they were told that the mechanical restraint chairs were the only way for the boys to attend the concert and that their use was unique.

Despite this, the couple became concerned that Samuel and Jacob were routinely detained at school.

And in June 2011, a clinical psychologist visited and observed one of the boys strapped to the hard rock chairs in the classroom.

Once the boys’ mother and their caregiver attended a school sports day where other children were running around outside.

But Jacob was strapped into the chair and clearly distraught.

The boys’ autism means they interpret the world through touch and movement, so using the chairs completely undermines their human rights, Annie and Mark argued.

After taking Samuel and Jacob out of school they homeschooled them and the boys have thrived ever since.

The couple brought a civil complaint under the Human Rights Act against the council.

They argued that the restraints had been used unlawfully because the school had not considered less restrictive options and had no plan to reduce the use of restraints.

The school acknowledged a number of shortcomings, acknowledging that the use of straps and trays on the specialty chairs could limit movement and lead to mechanical limitation.

They admitted the restraint took place while the boys were at school and without their parents’ consent, in violation of school policies and national guidelines.

Annie and Mark added: “We have only appealed after many years of trying to get answers from Kent County Council.

“This case was never about monetary compensation; it was about trying to stop these practices that are happening to other children across the country.”

Attorney Catriona Rubens, representing the Montague family, said: “Samuel and Jacob were active, sensory-seeking children who, because of their autism, interpret the world through movement and touch.

“We believe that by placing them in mechanical restraint chairs at school, the local authority violated their human rights and provided no therapeutic benefit to the twins.

“We welcome Kent County Council’s sincere apologies and acknowledgment of the failure of Samuel and Jacob in this case.

“The success of Samuel and Jacob’s case is a testament to the many years their parents have struggled to get answers from local authorities about the use of restraint on their sons.”

A spokesman for the council said in a statement that it “sincerely apologizes for any harm, distress and/or pain and suffering inflicted on Samuel and Jacob and their parents as a result of this failure.”

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https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/autistic-brothers-strapped-chairs-school-26570028 Autistic brothers strapped to chairs from school win £80k and apology

Fry Electronics Team

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