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‘Tethered like an ANIMAL!': School staff strap autistic boy, five, who can't speak to chair by his ankles and waist as other children play freely - then send mother PHOTOS in class report

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 11/10/2018 Amie Gordon

A school strapped a five-year-old autistic boy to a wheelchair then sent the distressing photos to his parents.

The boy's mother explained how her son's behaviour 'suddenly' changed over the course of a year and he had panic attacks when she tried to sit him in a chair, but she and his father 'didn't realise what had been going on'.  

She later discovered photos of him in a scrapbook sent home by the school which showed her son, who has no physical disability, tethered to the chair with straps around his waist, legs and ankles.

She claims her 'placid' son was 'tortured and tethered like an animal' at the special school in Northern Ireland.

A horrified mother received pictures of her son, who has no physical disability, tethered to the chair with straps around his waist, legs and ankles © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited A horrified mother received pictures of her son, who has no physical disability, tethered to the chair with straps around his waist, legs and ankles a person wearing a costume: The youngster's behaviour deteriorated over the course of a year, according to his mother, and she only learnt why when she found these pictures of him  © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The youngster's behaviour deteriorated over the course of a year, according to his mother, and she only learnt why when she found these pictures of him 

The mother told Jilly Beattie of Belfast Live: '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.'

Then in January, the five-year-old had hisscrapbooksout, which are sent home to parents to show them what their children have been doing at school.

She added: 'We had of course looked through them before but we hadn't noticed that our child had actually been restrained in a chair by his ankles.

'I was talking away to him and asking him what he wanted to show me, and he just kept touching the book. I started looking very closely at the photos and my heart just started racing. It was there in plain sight, my wee man strapped into a chair by his ankles.

'I felt sick, it was like the fog lifted. Now we knew, now we had an explanation.' 

According to Belfast Live, his parents have made an official complaint citing negligence and breach of duty by the school, the Education Authority and the Department of Education but claim they have been 'left in limbo.'  

The mother added: 'Those chairs are made for children who need to be elevated and angled to the right position, not our son.'  

a person sitting on a table: The pictures were included in a school scrapbook sent home to parents to show what their children had been doing at school  © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The pictures were included in a school scrapbook sent home to parents to show what their children had been doing at school 

Human rights lawyer Kevin Winters, who is acting on behalf of the family, told MailOnline they are early stages of litigation. 

He said: 'The key point is the main allegation made by the parents of the little boy, on the restraint issue. 

'There was insufficient communication from the school and authorities on how they were going to handle his needs, with particular reference to restraint.

'[His mother] did not consent to this process and despite raising the issue over a significant period of time, it has still not been satisfactorily resolved.' 

Mr Winters said the parents were taking action against the school, board of education and social services and formal letters of claim will be issued shortly.

The mother claims her 'placid' son was 'tortured and tethered like an animal' at the special school in Northern Ireland © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The mother claims her 'placid' son was 'tortured and tethered like an animal' at the special school in Northern Ireland

A spokesman for the Police Service of Northern Ireland told MailOnline: 'The matter has been reported to police and is being investigated,' but refused to comment further. 

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

A National Association of Head Teachers spokesperson, representing the school's principal, said: 'There is an ongoing investigation into these allegations. Our member is complying fully with the investigation.'  

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