Monday, October 20, 2008

Time out rooms may be harmful for students with disabilities

Some educators say time-out rooms are being used more often to discipline children with disabilities and that the isolation might be harmful: for children with autism, it might be particularly counterproductive, according to this story from the Associated Press. Here is an excerpt:

After failing to finish a reading assigment, 8-year-old Isabel Loeffler was sent to the school's time-out room - a converted storage area under a staircase - where she was left alone for three hours.

The autistic Iowa girl wet herself before she was finally allowed to leave.

Appalled, her parents removed her from the school district and filed a lawsuit.

Some educators say time-out rooms are being used with increased frequency to discipline children with behavioral disorders. And the time outs are probably doing more harm that good, they add.

"It really is a form of abuse," said Ken Merrell, head of the Department for Special Education and Clinical Sciences at the University of Oregon. "It's going to do nothing to change the behavior. You're using it as an isolation booth."