Friday, January 13, 2012

"Scream Room"?? Sounds more like torture room to me.

A school in Connecticut is under fire for having and using what they refer to as a "Scream Room".   They are used when a teacher has lost control of a child's behavior and is used as a seclusion room.  They are supposed to be padded for the child's protection.  This room is not. 




Children as young as 5 are allegedly subjected to this room on a regular basis.  Their screams heard by the other children.   There are claims that the teachers will hold the door closed on the child to keep them inside.  How the hell do these people sleep at night????

I read the comments at the bottom of the article and I wish I could say I'm surprised.  I'd love to take out a full page ad in USA today or some other national magazine or newspaper to let the world know that most parents of special needs kids do parent and discipline our children!  We do NOT expects the schools to raise our children for us.  That often times children are being overly disciplined for either (a) typical, age appropriate behaviors or (b) for behaviors that are caused by neurological responses to their environment. 
Would you expert a child who had a seizure to be disciplined for their behavior?  If not, then why should a child who is verbally or physically stimming (hooting, yelling, humming, spinning, rolling on the floor) be punished? 

My son is a major stim monkey.  His OT once told me if she could hook up an IV of stimulation to him....  Anyway, one of his stim behaviors last year was, at the end of the day, when he was tired and overstimulated, he'd lay on the tile floor and push his face onto the tile.  If this was happening in the classroom, it would have not been a big deal.  However, he tended to do this during dismissal in the middle of the hallway when students are trying to get to their buses.  He posed a hazard to himself and those children.  His teachers didnt' restrain him or seclude him for a behavior that he really couldn't control.  They did what they had to do to keep him safe until we were able to come up with a solution to the challenge.  We found that if he was given sensory stimulation prior to dismissal, it would hold him long enough to get him and his classmates on their buses safely.

I'd love to see action plans for every student - not just special needs.  I'd love to see all teachers setting their students up for success.  As Dylan's teacher, Miss Joan, says over and over again... "If you set children up for success, they will succeed.  If you set them up for failure, they will fail". 

Scream rooms or restraint and seclusion rooms that are used at the drop of a hat is a great way to set up students for failure.  These techniques should be used as a last resort, when an escalation plan has been put into place but does not prevent a child from going into melt down.  Children should not be left alone in a locked room, frightened to the point of harming themselves.  They should be monitored as closely as possible.  These rooms should have cameras to prevent the abuse of students AND school staff.

People, this isn't rocket science.

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