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Dublin: 15 °C Tuesday 29 July, 2014

Use of isolation rooms in schools to come under government scrutiny

In response to queries from this website, the Department of Education has confirmed they have requested that policy advice be developed.

A child locked in a withdrawal room.  A member of staff took the photo after the child attempted to dismantle the light after being locked in the room for several hours.
A child locked in a withdrawal room. A member of staff took the photo after the child attempted to dismantle the light after being locked in the room for several hours.
Image: Image supplied to TheJournal.ie by the child’s parent

THE USE OF withdrawal rooms in schools with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) units is to come under government scrutiny.

In a response to queries from TheJournal.ie, the Department of Education has confirmed that Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn has requested the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) to prepare policy advice for these schools.

Parents have raised concerns as there are no national guidelines to govern the use of these rooms. Currently, guidelines are set by the Board of Management of individual schools, with some claiming that this may have contributed to their misuse.

“As part of the process to develop this policy advice, the NCSE will consider the issue of the use of withdrawal/isolation rooms in schools for children with autism,” the Department said today.

“Parents, professionals and other stakeholders and interested parties” will be consulted during this process.

The guidelines are to come under the title of “Policy Advice on Educational Provision for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder”.

TheJournal.ie revealed yesterday that children with autism as young as eight-years-old are being locked in so-called ‘withdrawal rooms’ for hours without supervision.

Used in schools with ASD units, they are intended to contain the child when they are experiencing a meltdown, and are at risk of injuring themselves or others.

However, children are being locked into these rooms for a number of other reasons, such as when they become frustrated after falling behind on work.

The revelations were met with calls from advocacy groups for an ‘urgent roll-out of Autism specific training’.

Revealed: Autistic children locked in unsupervised ‘isolation rooms’ for hours >

Reaction: Lack of isolation room regulation puts children with autism at risk of ‘serious abuse’ >

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