Mom furious after daycare attached ankle weights to 2-year-old son to ‘slow him down’: ‘Abhorrent’

A furious mom has shared her outrage after discovering that her 2-year-old son was fitted with ankle weights at his daycare to stop him from moving quickly. 

Shocked and uncertain about what to do next, she turned to an advice forum to seek opinions from other parents.

She wrote to Reddit: “My child, who is two, attends a licensed daycare program full-time. When I went to pick him up early on Friday, he had ankle weights attached to him! My son has no medical diagnosis or known neurodivergence. He’s never exhibited aggressive behaviour. Quite the opposite – he’s shy and fairly anti-social. He is being treated by a Developmental Therapist (DT) and a Speech Therapist (ST).”

The mom shared that the assistant director at his school, Katie*, often commented that her child is a poor listener, with other teachers noting he doesn’t stop running when told.

She wrote: “Katie also uses a lot of buzzwords hinting at a diagnosis such as ‘stemming’, ‘non-verbal’, and ‘sensory processing stuff’. He says 80-100 words. A little behind for 27 months old, but that’s why we’re getting ST.

Back to Friday – I was shocked to see the ankle weights and the teacher commented that these were needed to slow him down and keep him from hurting himself/others. Katie soon came into the room and explained that the weights were used on another ‘big kid with sensory issues’ and they thought it would help slow down my child.

“Important to note kids in this room are age two-three. My kid is big but middle of the pack in his classroom. He’s never hurt anyone – no biting, hitting, kicking. He’s thrown one car in his one-and-a-half years at daycare.

“That’s the only ‘incident’ we’ve ever been made aware of.”

Katie also commented that the weights were ‘only used in the morning’. My child arrives at 7 am. These were still on at 12 pm. I have yet to consult with an attorney. We are meeting with the director tomorrow and the DT plans to counsel staff and management on the proper use of weights (under supervision and only as part of a treatment plan + training).

“I have expressed in writing that I am not comfortable with weights/restraints/compression being used without the direction and supervision of an Occupational Therapist or certified medical professional. I did get a swift reply acknowledging they should have told us first and wouldn’t do it again.

“From what I’ve read, ankle weights are not at all developmentally appropriate or safe for a two-year-old. They force children to use quads instead of hamstrings, which can do serious damage to their developing muscles.

I was so taken aback and horrified. Who directed this treatment/intervention? How long has it been occurring? Do other children wear them if they’re running too much? Does any teacher have the discretion to use them or just Katie? What’s the process for determining weights are needed and for putting them on?

“What is my recourse here? We’re considering having my husband leave his job and try the stay-at-home-parent route. I don’t know how we can trust that they aren’t doing worse things behind our backs. Or how we can trust they won’t retaliate against my child if we make trouble for them.”

“Part of me wants to stand outside and warn every incoming parent about this. Part of me wants to demand Katie never be allowed near my child. I’m speculating she is the one ‘ordering’ the use of the weights.”

Parents reading the post were appalled and urged the mom to file a formal complaint.

One person responded: “Please let your pediatrician know about this and ask if an immediate exam is needed. File a complaint with the state.”

“Using weights to stop a child from running (which is normal for a two-year-old) is abhorrent,” another wrote. 

And a different user added: “Not a lawyer, but I teach Special Education, and I’m a home-registered behaviour technician for children with developmental disabilities (mainly autism). As for both of these things, I cannot even legally use a sensory brush unless prescribed by an OT.”

They continued: “Weighted items need very specific things individualised to each person. (And cannot be used for an extended period of time). If your city or state has a department/office for people with disabilities, I would 100% report the daycare to them as well. Reporting it is the best way to allow other parents to be aware. Absolutely do not send him back to that daycare.”

“I work with special needs kids, and I have NEVER done this or ever even heard of it. That could be considered a restraint, in fact. Make the call immediately,” a different Redditor concluded. 

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