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Scream Rooms

January 12, 2012 - Colleen Carpenter
"The two rooms at Farm Hill Elementary School in Middletown, Conn., came under fire after several students complained about the sounds of children yelling coming from the rooms, while building custodians reported having to clean up blood and urine from their floors and walls."

Wait, what?

So there are these rooms in a school, about the size of a closet where children with special needs, typically ones with behavioral issues, are sent. They have been dubbed "Scream Rooms" because the kids go in there and scream. Children in general education classrooms complain about the noise! So concerned parents took this issue to the school board. Does this mean these parents attempted to deal with this at the school level and were ignored?

The actual practice has a name, seclusionary time-out rooms. The method of using a "time-out" with children, both typical and special needs, has been researched and is a method that is often included in a child's behavior plan. The problem here is that not one single step in this method is being followed correctly.

Time-out should be used AFTER the function of a behavior is assessed. It appears as if nobody involved in these "scream rooms" are taking the time to determine if the kids are misbehaving to gain attention, to avoid work or because of some physical reason. No adult is staying in the room and collecting data whether or not the actual "time-out" intervention is even working!

Proper use of time-out can be an extremely valuable tool. Shutting a kid in a closet to let him scream, bang his head, kick and otherwise self-injure is outright negligent, lazy and unacceptable. I'm glad these parents stood up to advocate for their children. It takes a lot of courage to stand up against those who are responsible for your child's well-being seven hours a day. But this just solidifies for me that parents MUST be advocates for their children.

I am hopeful that Connecticut and other states will pay more attention to what is going on in their schools and be held accountable for the mistreatment of students by those charged with their care.


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