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04th Apr 2022

UK mum claims autistic son’s school placed him in isolation room without her knowledge


“I will be seeking a referral on to somewhere that treats their disabled pupils humanely.”

A furious mother in the UK has claimed her seven-year-old autistic son was put in an “isolation room” without her knowledge.

According to the Mirror, an investigation has been launched after the unnamed woman claimed her son was left “terrified” when put in the “quiet room” at school after he was deemed to have been disruptive in class.

Calling the treatment the boy allegedly suffered “abhorrent”, “cruel” and “sadistic”, the mum said she wasn’t informed of the incident by staff and instead found out when he came home “upset”.

“I was not notified of this by staff, instead just told ‘he had an unsettled morning when asked to complete a task.’ He was so upset he told me as soon as he came home,” she revealed, per the Mirror.

The mum added that she has removed her child from the school.

“I will be seeking a referral on to somewhere that treats their disabled pupils humanely and values their wellbeing. And I will be making an official complaint with the education department,” she said.

She expressed outrage at the fact that this allegedly happened to her son while at a specialist unit that should be more familiar with his condition.

She said: “I feel people need to know how our children are treated and changes need to be made. My son was locked in the room for being too vocal and refusing to do a task, which in turn upset the other children. He was not a danger to anyone or himself. Just a regular upset autistic child.

“Why on earth is a specialist unit using a locked empty room as a behavioural tool? It’s absolutely abhorrent. I was told he was in there for 15 minutes, a long time to be terrified and screaming for help. It’s cruel and sadistic.”

According to the Mirror, the unit wrote to the mum to apologise for not informing her that her son had “accessed the quiet room” after his “unsettled morning” as is usually “protocol”.

The unit also reportedly claimed the boy was in the room “less than 10 minutes” and was supervised by a staff member “at all times”.

“Appropriate forms were completed after the event, sent to the learning and raising standards mailbox and to the inclusion co-ordinator within the correct timeframe for reporting,” the letter stated.

“These events are then discussed at the Inclusion Monitoring Group and discussions take place as to whether anything can be done differently, or in any additional supports may be needed. This is standard practice for any child who may need to access the quiet room.”

Many disabled people and parents of disabled children have called for an end to these rooms, noting that they usually elevate a child’s stress levels rather than deescalating the situation. The experience can be particularly traumatising for non-verbal children, whose families occasionally aren’t aware of their child’s isolation until they notice a decline in their mood, behaviour or progress and have to investigate for themselves.

The British Psychological Society says that using empty rooms to isolate, seclude or confine a child is an “overly simplistic” approach that runs “counter to the understanding of child development”. According to the society, such rooms have “been proven not to be effective” and their use is “not backed by evidence”.

“The use of isolation rooms breaches the UN convention on the rights of the child, denying them their right to learn effectively, and disproportionately affects those children and young people who need the most support,” a statement on their website reads.

“The use of isolation booths locates ‘the problem’ within the child and fails to recognise the links between disability special education needs, poverty, inequality, lower wellbeing, poor mental health and children’s behaviour in school.”