In 2007, three Minnesota families raised concerns about the treatment of their adult children with developmental disabilities in a state-run institution. Investigations and a federal lawsuit, Jensen v. MN Department of Human Services, that involved 300 developmentally disabled adults revealed “improper and inhumane use of seclusion and mechanical restraint.” The family who began this process discovered that their son had been restrained over 251 times in a prone position with handcuffs and leg hobbles. He was not the only one routinely subjected to this treatment.
The settlement reached in December of 2011, included agreements to overhaul the system, including repealing the laws that allow seclusion and restraints, as well as the implementation of positive supports in facilities that serve the developmentally disabled and the elderly. The MN Legislature has followed up with this settlement by enacting new laws and voting in the Olmstead Plan.
Given the widespread use of punitive measures in group homes and facilities, this movement toward positive supports and a person-centered approach in state-run institutions is critical. We fully support that DHS is embracing person-centered planning, full integration in community life, and positive support strategies for our most vulnerable adults. Read our prior post on the use of prone restraints to discover why this is of particular concern to families living with autism.
DHS is in the process of gathering public comments on their proposed plan. Full details on the plan and the background behind its implementation can be found here. We urge all concerned parents to read the proposed rules and give feedback to Karen E. Sullivan Hook at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On February 23rd, the state will hold a hearing so you can be part of the rule-making process. It is critical that families living with autism have their voices heard on this issue. Join us at 9:00 am on Monday, February 23 at the Elmer L. Andersen Human Services Building, 540 Cedar Street, St. Paul, Minnesota 55155. The hearing will be held on the second floor conference rooms, 2370 and 2380.
Following are links to information on these rules.