This is quite the opposite of what usually happens! Typically, news articles have stories where parents of a child who has special needs make a case against the use of a “scream room”. This time, however, a parent is pointing out why she wants her children, who have autism, to be able to have access to a safe, soft, isolation room.
Some schools use isolation rooms as part of their Special Education program. The rooms have been referred to by some as “scream rooms”, because the child placed inside is screaming.
This time, we have a parent who is explaining why she feels that an isolation room, (used in a very specific way), is something she wants her children to have access to at school.
She has given the school permission to place her children (one at a time, of course), into an isolation room. It is not being used as a form of discipline. Instead, it is a safe place for her child to be in when the child is out of control and needs to calm down. The purpose is to de-escalate disruptive or aggressive behaviors.
Niki Favela has an eleven year old daughter, Star, who has autism. Star came to the family as a foster child 2 and a half years ago. She had a tendency to react in a violent way. Her mother said:
“She would physically attack us nine or ten times a day. She would throw chairs, books, hit, kick, head-butt. The adrenaline in her little body was overwhelming… She didn’t have control. She didn’t know how to calm herself down.”
According to her mother, Star learned how to self-regulate her emotions, and her body, when she was inside the isolation room. She is now in a regular fourth-grade class, but has the ability to use the isolation room whenever she feels the need. All she has to do is ask. She uses the isolation room to regain control of herself and to have a quiet place to take a break from the outside world, which she can perceive as noisy and overwhelming.
Niki Favala also has a 10 year son who has special needs, and who has asked to use the isolation room once. Her youngest son, a seven year old who has autism, has not needed to be in the isolation room yet. Niki Favala is not saying that every child should be placed into a “scream room”. She is saying that the proper use of an isolation room has helped her children.
Image by Quinn Dombrowski on Flickr