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8-yr-old with SLD - over an hour in a Time Out Room/Cupboard

(24 Posts)
donkeyderby Sun 13-Sep-09 16:42:27

I need to pick your brains about a situation witnessed by visiting parents (trustworthy) at DS1's school.

A boy with SLD/EBD was shut in a very small room,(described by parents as more like a large cupboard) for over an hour as a time out strategy. The room was bare and the window too high to see out of. A member of staff stood outside but they left him in there because he did not calm down for the required 3 minutes. The boy had turned the light out himself so it was quite dark for some of the time.

He was still kicking and screaming in the room when the parents left, with the threat that he would miss the next class - swimming - as he hadn't calmed down.

I feel quite alarmed at this reported incident as it seems too long to shut a child with very limited cognitive ability in a room. The room sounds too small, claustrophobic and frightening, whatever his behavioural issues. There is a large soft play room that I thought would have been a less scary place to put him. Also, missing a refreshing, relaxing sports activity as a punishment sounds counter-productive to me.

Does anyone know whether there are guidelines/rules on the use of seclusion for children and whether this sort of thing is common practice?

BethNoire Sun 13-Sep-09 16:59:24

It's absolutely disgusting and completely unacceptable!

I wuld be seriously considering reporting this- the child doesn't have (I presume) the ability to do so and I would clas as abusive.

Poor, poor child

claudialyman Sun 13-Sep-09 17:29:50

Report it. ASAP.

roundwindow Sun 13-Sep-09 17:50:27

Please find someone in charge you can speak to about this, it sounds awful sad

daisy5678 Sun 13-Sep-09 17:54:09

It does sound a long time BUT J is very often left in his calming down room for a while, often by choice now, but used to be until staff decided he was calm enough. If the child is a danger to himself and others (which J very often is), I don't know of any other solutions really. An hour is long but I know of a time when J had to be restrained for 45 mins shock but I totally trusted the staff' judgement that it was unsafe to let him run off and cause someone an injury or run out of school.

BethNoire Sun 13-Sep-09 18:02:01

Would you have been happy with the story in the OP though GMS? I've restrained ds1 for 40 mins before, but I wouldn't be happy with him in a room where nobody could see him for an hour. And ds1 doesn't have SLD either- IMO it should be less time for those with SLD.

ommmward Sun 13-Sep-09 18:13:52

Christ almighty. That's abuse.

donkeyderby Sun 13-Sep-09 18:59:17

Givememoresleep, I know what you are saying. I am sure this child was a danger to himself and/others and they were checking on him, presumably through the window.

I presume also that the school has policy on this. The fact that it was going on in front of visiting parents must mean they are confident that they are doing the right thing...?

I was just shocked and I wonder whether this child's parents are informed and whether he is terrified of being in a confined space. I don't know how I can report an incident I didn't witness either. The parents concerned are going to take it further.

cocolepew Sun 13-Sep-09 19:01:23

If it was a calming down situation someone should still have been in the room, with him. Actually 2 people should have.

daisy5678 Sun 13-Sep-09 19:09:19

I wouldn't be happy. But I guess it depends on the child and the professionalism of the staff to make a fair judgement. The soft room sounds more appropriate, tbh. J's room has no furniture as he would use it as a weapon and he also has nobody in with him now as he would attack them. He used to have 2 people with him each time he lost it but he's so strong and violent that it stopped being safe. I'm guessing nobody was in with this boy as he would A) be dangerous and B) they knew there was nothing in there that he could hurt himself with. He's better in on his own with nobody and nothing and is actually able to say now that he feels that that is true. Just wish I had somewhere like what he has at school in our house, as when he loses it, he just trashes everything and attacks me.

BethNoire Sun 13-Sep-09 19:10:40

The parents should absolutely take it further, far better palced than you, though if they didn't you could absolutely report it yes- happens often.

I've worked with severely aggressive adults with severe SLD /ASD; indeed I was hurt by one at the place we worked. On no occasion could I imagine that we would have isolated him for an hour, depsite him being very much big enough to harm us. A full risk assessment ahd us provided with medication to give when required, and the managers were trained to give that.... if the child could not have been controlled in a different way then a full assessment should have been undertaken which will easy to prove.

claudialyman Sun 13-Sep-09 23:46:35

The NSPCC should be able to help you, either taking responsibilty to investigate the complaint themselves or telling you how to go about it

NSPCC 24 Helpline number, 0808 800 5000..

Also you may want to have a look at the CNN article: sorry i cant make the link work. But type "GAO Report special needs kids abused in schools CNN" into google. The authors of the report point out that some of the most disturbing reports concern the use of Seclusion Rooms.

Even if this is some sort of misguided behavioural modification technique, their misuse of restraint serves no purpose. A child with SLD is in no way going to have the attention span to make the link between wnatever he has done and the punishment, after that lenght of time. There are very valid reasons why time-outs are kept to a few minutes for children.

If this was supposedly for the child's safety or to prevent him hurting others there are far better and more effective ways that will actually address the problem, not compound it. School staff should be well aware of this or they should not be working in this area.

The confusion and distress this child must have felt dont bear thinking about.

I find it very disturbing that they are so (wrongly) confident it is appropriate to treat a child like this that they do it in front of parents and presumably other staff? I would be seriously concerned about the culture of the school and their attitude to the very vulnerable children in their care.

Please do speak up regardless of whether the visiting parents do too. The more weight you can add to this the better. A child with SLD is unlikely to have the understanding or vocabulary to see he should not have been treated in this way and will be unable to get help.

mysonben Sun 13-Sep-09 23:53:56

That is shocking! Way too long for time out for a child, seems more like punishment than time out.
I'm not saying that the staff should have let him get on with dangerous behaviour,absolutely not, but to leave him in there for over 1 hour!
Surely isn't that taking the easiest option to suit themselves.

Seuss Mon 14-Sep-09 12:04:53

My son has a room like this at his school but I assumed (correctly I hope?) that children weren't left on their own in there for that long. My ds can be quite aggresive when upset but putting him in the room, alone, for that long, I can only see making him worse. I think I will be asking more questions on how they use the room after reading this - although have to say I have never had reason to doubt any of their strategies in the past. If there was a problem that involved ds being that upset for that long (regardless of whether he ended up in the room or not) I would expect to be told about it.

BethNoire Mon 14-Sep-09 14:02:34

For reference, the NSPCC line is very good for telling you whether something you are concerned about needs to be followed up and (just as significantly in some cases) WILL be followed up if you complain.

As it is anonymus at that stage, always a great way to er on the side of caution IME

donkeyderby Mon 14-Sep-09 16:29:03

Claudia, I have looked at your link into physical interventions - it is from the USA so perhaps legislation is different there. I know that in US mental health, they use barbaric methods to restrain patients. They also talk about seclusion rooms used for punishment, but I think in this case, it was to prevent harm to self and others. Useful stuff about letting the child run around instead of seclusion - I know several children in the same school who are encouraged to do this. Maybe this child has exhausted this strategy.

NSPCC line busy but I will follow this up.

Givemesleep, I appreciate your comments on this because this is the difficult situation you have to deal with with your child.

I don't know what staff can do with a child who cannot be with others because they are so violent. I can see that it sparks outrage but I really would like to know whether there are national guidelines on seclusion. Does anyone know of any national organisations that could help me? I would like to be armed with facts before I consider making a complaint.

I was told that the boy was distressed because he is attached to a particular teacher who was not there and has moved class. Sad.

vjg13 Mon 14-Sep-09 20:01:06

We saw a similar type of thing happening when visiting a school for PMLD. The 'cupboard/small room' looked like a cleaner's cupboard and a member of staff was holding the door. The boy was kicking the door. We were being shown round by the head teacher and she stood talking to us a little further down the corridor. It seemed to be their accepted practice. I was very upset when we left and knew we would never send my daughter there. sad

Seuss Tue 15-Sep-09 10:05:53

The time-out room in our school is small but has been purpose built and designed. It is padded and has nothing in it. It's not a pleasant idea but nothing else would really work when my ds is really bad - the soft play room would be a reward and the sensory room has too much equipment. He will kick and throw and is very strong. Outside is also not really an option as it is both a reward and he would be uncontrollable and impossible to catch! Sometimes he needs a small place with no distractions to calm down, he is supervised whilst in there though. I do think an hour would be too long in there though and would hope they'd try something else rather than leave him in there that long.

claudialyman Wed 16-Sep-09 10:49:03

I think a very valid question is whether the staff's aim was to give the child an appropriate place and chance to calm down or whether this was essentially being done as a punishment for a meltdown.

If it was being done to give him a chance to calm down and they genuinely thought it would work, then they should have realised it wasn't working long before he was in there for an hour!

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 16-Sep-09 11:16:17

Not acceptable at all.

This is also why primary and junior schools should also have nuture groups in place.

donkeyderby Wed 16-Sep-09 17:50:42

I have never come across a nurture group in an SLD school.

vjg13 Wed 16-Sep-09 18:13:15

My daughter's MLD school has children with a variety of needs. She has SLD and is in a key stage nuture group.

claudialyman Wed 16-Sep-09 18:19:33

What is a nuture group?

donkeyderby Thu 17-Sep-09 09:17:49

Could a child who is violent towards others and themselves be in a nurture group?

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