Nov 30 2012

Alternet: “Isolation Rooms” in Elementary Schools: Are They Treatment or Punishment?

A Washington state public elementary school is under fire over its use of a “isolation room”–a small padded box that, to many, appears similar to solitary confinement boxes used inside prisons.

The school district has explained that the room is designed to be a calming space for children with severe behavioral disabilities, and that no student placed in the “isolation room” without written permission from his or her parents.

However, a handful of parents and grandparents have told a local news station that their children were also placed in the “isolation room” without parental permission, sparking intense questions around whether the room is a method of intense therapeutic treatment for some of the school district’s most disabled students or whether it has also become a form of punishment for any child that is acting out in the classroom.

Click here to read the full story.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Alternet: “Isolation Rooms” in Elementary Schools: Are They Treatment or Punishment?”

  1. Ashleyon 30 Nov 2012 at 2:33 pm

    I’m a special Ed assistant and I have seen outbursts and been hit and kicked and spat on by kids but I don’t believe that these “isolation rooms” are the answer! There are varying types of developmental differences in people even autism or downs syndrome can’t be classified as one type of people. I’ve worked with kids and adults with many different “special needs”. Many people on the autism spectrum are also sensory sensitive meaning that certain noises, lights, touches may be very scary or even hurtful to them. They also often need to move around a lot and you’ll find they have a hard time looking at your eyes when you talk to them BUT they’re most likely listening in fact they could probably repeat it back word for word, if they’re verbal, some are not. You’ll see some kids on the autism spectrum wearing headphones to muffle the sounds around them or they’ll wear a weighted vest to help them feel more grounded or sunglasses even inside especially near fluorescent lights. I do know of some people who like small tight spaces but not being locked up! The weighted vest or a lap pad has a similar effect to squishing themselves in a corner(which I’ve seen kids do when they’re upset) but w/o excluding them from the group. Many schools I work at have “sensory rooms” they’re nothing like these boxes…instead they’re very open and with lots of windows and they’re never left alone in fact often they’re there with lots of other kids who are also sensory sensitive. In these rooms there’s many tools to help alleviate their sensory needs. There’s cushions/mats, music, swings, climbing apparatus’, fidget toys, etc.

    We all have our differences and some are greater than others. I guess we’ve come a long way but we still have an exhaustive road ahead.

  2. Bryanon 08 Dec 2012 at 5:45 pm

    I am an educator with 13 years experience in public education. First, let me say that I find this scenario appalling. At no time should any child be subjected to this type of treatment. Second, no offense to “Special Needs” students because I do understand that every child is different and some have needs that are greater or different that others, BUT at no time should those needs ever be put at a higher or more important level than those of others. If I have 24 students in my classroom, the needs of one does not outweigh nor should they interfere with the needs of the other 23. If a child can not be placed in a classroom and function at a level that is appropriate to the learning of ALL in that room then they do not belong in the room. I have had “special needs” children in my room who worked harder than any of my other students because they appreciated and respected the opportunity (not the right) to be there and receive an education. I feel that somewhere along the way people got the idea that receiving an education is a right and not a privilege. Yes, we all have the right to the opportunity to receive a free and appropriate public education but that right, like any other, can and should be taken away if abused, even if by a child. Responsibility for understanding this belongs with the parents and as such so does receiving the consequences of abusing that privilege. I have had regular education students in my classroom who were completely disruptive to the classroom setting and administrators would consistently allow it. This should be stopped and children who can’t behave in the classroom should be removed. Permanently if necessary. These behaviors are not allowed in the corporate world or society, which is what public education is supposed to be preparing them for, and should not be allowed in the classroom.