In the past week three stories have come to light regarding the fact that three special needs students have been pulled from their schools due to the treatment they received at their school
Autistic child pulled from school over use of Isolation room
8 yr old with foetal alcohol syndrome, cerebral palsy and epilepsy pulled from school because no one would help her use washroom
13 yr old with aspergers and bipolar disorder pulled from school over use of isolation room
Over the last year these three students were pulled from classes due to their treatment at the hands of school staff with one case verging close to serious neglect in the case of the cerebral palsy girl and the other two clear signs of abuse as the isolation rooms in question used in those schools are 3 walls bolted to the floor and a door that is held shut while the student is inside
Isolation rooms in general are not a bad thing as it does help an autistic child calm down, however a major part of the issue involved in these cases is the size of the room. In my child’s school what is used as an isolation room is a small office sized room where the TA and student sit and wait for his issues to resolve themselves.
What is of particular issue lately is the fact that autistic children due to a lack of social skills and communication skills become upset due to the inability to communicate and can become disruptive and/or aggressive. This can be fixed if the TA involved is directly involved enough to pick up the signs of an impending issue and has the child leave the classroom before he becomes disruptive.
As i have watched these discussions over the last several days i have noticed a significant trend in that a large majority of people would prefer to see all special needs students removed from the classrooms which is no more a solution then a full and complete inclusion system is. The majority of students that have special needs can manage well in a standard classroom as long as certain needs are met.
1./ no person who needs help using the washroom should be forced to not have that help. A TA appointed to help the student at prearranged times or a simple paging system to have a TA come help in that situation is all that is needed in most cases and the TA involved could also be dealing with other low risk special needs students at the same time.
2./ no student who is at risk of violent behaviour or running away due to a special needs situation should ever be without a TA present. This TA would normally monitor the child for warning signs that they need a break and remove them from the classroom before an episode, allowing them to decompress without a violent episode and would also help the student with certain training outside the classroom that would be considered part of a special needs student’s special education plan.
3./ Where at all possible special needs students should be part of a regular class for at least a portion of their day under the supervision of a TA when required due to behavioural issues.
4./ Those students with intellectual difficulties would have a modified education plan that would focus on making them as independent as possible while allowing them the ability to learn as much as possible of a normal school criteria.
5./ Those students who can not handle a classroom situation (they do exist but are fewer then some would like us to believe) would be taught to the best of the student’s capabilities to keep as close an education level as students in their own age group as possible and including them in things like art, gym, music and library with a standard class where the student is capable of handling this.
During the debates over this issue in the last week I have monitored not only the discussions of those completely opposed to inclusion but also parents of special needs students who were dealing with specific issues and have put together a plan that best meets the needs of as many people as possible. That plan as outlined above includes, in basic terms, integration when at all possible with special attention paid to stemming issues proactively instead of reactively and therefore avoiding violent outbursts and disturbances