Isolation chamber-Special Education??

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by pepperidge, Dec 1, 2009.

  1. pepperidge

    pepperidge New Member


    Just thought I would get some moral support here. My high school age son (difficult child 1) has gotten to the point he usually gets to at this point in the school of deciding that school is too hard and just shutting down. He has pretty good supports etc, he just doesn't see why he should spend time doing work he hates doing. I've gotten to the point that I don't even know what to say anymore. Because you might want to get a job someday doesn't seem to make much impression.

    Anyway when he refuses to do work in class the teachers get frustrated, he gets sent to the ass't principal for a talk on the importance of school and then gets put in what I call the isolation chamber (bare room) to think about things.

    Somehow I don't think this is the treatment of choice for an intelligent but depressed kid struggling with major processing and executive function difficulties. He is pretty well medicated now--yeah for Lamictal, on a helpful dose of Adderall. While we might tweak things a little, our home life is actually pretty good. He's lost some privileges (no TV, isn't getting his learner's permits until school work improves) but I am reluctant to deprive him of spending time with his one friend who is a nice kid, as this is a kid who had trouble making friends etc.

    Anyway, we have an IEP meeting on Friday where I think I will get the isolation chamber written out the menu of options.

    Any ideas?

  2. crazymama30

    crazymama30 Active Member

    I agree with you. He does not want to be in school, hates school, so they put him in a bare room to......think about how much he hates school???

    I think he goes to a pretty small school, could they send him to the library and have a librarian or someone help him with his homework? I would agree with you to not remove the privelege of his friend, so many of our kids have problems making friends and then have problems making friends who are good and real friends. I would not take that away.

    I think that the school is feeding the depression, and possibly worsening his self esteem. Is this happening in all his classes or just a select few? Is it the same ones all the time? Is it areas where his processing issues are the issue?
  3. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    First off, school is already doling out consequences; personally I've never handed consequences out here if school is already handling it. Your difficult child may give up completely if he's surrounded by consequences & may not understand his inability to concentrate because of the depression.

    Secondly, I would ask school to knock off the isolation room. It's not working - they need to find another, more positive form to get difficult child motivated. Hand him a project that interests him (extra work), send him to study hall or library to write a paper.

    by the way, I believe isolation rooms are to be used for children who are out of control behaviorially & a danger to themselves or others; once placed in that room there should always be an adult in there talking with that child doing their best to calm them until the crisis passes or transport is arranged to ER. The law here states it cannot be used because a teacher is frustrated. The compliance officer checks the schools frequently to be sure those rooms are not being used indiscriminately.

    Good luck with the mtg.
  4. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    You could be writing the story of my son's life until he went to Residential Treatment Center (RTC).

    The isolation room, to my way of thinking, is punitive, not constructive, and will not help solve the problem. In fact, I believe it will just make your son feel worse about himself.

    Does your son have any adult mentors at school? Does he participate in any school activities that he enjoys or feels a connection to? What will get your son invested in school are the special bonds he can build through positive interactions.

    At his Residential Treatment Center (RTC), my son was assigned a "principles coach," an adult staffer with whom he goes off campus to hang out and do fun (as well as therapeutic) activities. He was also urged to join the basketball team, something he never would have done in his home high school. Right now he's on a service trip to Mexico with a dozen other boys and a group of college students to bring the holidays to children in an orphanage.

    A couple of weeks ago my son was on academic probation because he was several papers behind for his English class. He was told in a firm and friendly way that the natural consequences were that he would not be able to play in a basketball game the next day and he would not be able to attend a professional basketball game that Saturday evening if he did not get his work completed. I'm not 100 percent sure if this would have occurred prior to his going to wilderness over the summer, but he buckled down and got his work turned in.

    This is all my long way of saying that positives work far better than negatives, in my humble opinion. You need to find ways to build on your son's strengths and motivations rather than concentrate on his challenges and weaknesses.

    Good luck in your meeting on Friday.
  5. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I didn't think they did things like that. It sure doesn't seem right at all and I agree you need to have it written in the IEP that he cannot be placed in an isolation room like that.

    It is very punitive and there is no way our kids learn from sitting there and thinking about it.
  6. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Good idea to include it in the IEP meeting. It is allowed in our school system but there are strict guidelines. Someone must be at the door at all times. The amount of time in the isolation room is mandated in writing. The use of the room is
    limited also. Thank heavens I did not have to deal with that
    but you are absolutely totally right to insist on discipline guidelines in the IEP. Good luck. DDD
  7. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Pepperidge - "time out" rooms were used frequently with- my difficult child, mainly due to violent/aggressive behavior. It was a safety issue and he had to be removed. There are strict rules in IL sped law about use and supervision of these rooms. You might want to check in your state sped law to see if they address use of "time out" rooms. You also might want to check to see if there are any "best practices" regarding the use of positive behavioral interventions. Our state has them and our local district has implemented them in all schools now, not just for sped kids.

    Quite frankly, it sounds like when staff gets frustrated with- your difficult child's noncompliance, they're removing him so they get a break. in my humble opinion, a totally inappropriate use of isolation. From a purely practical standpoint, in what parallel universe do they think that difficult child "thinking" about the situation is going to fix it? It just doesn't work that way.

    I wonder if a functional behavioral analysis might be helpful - what triggers him (and what triggers the teacher to have him removed from class)? What are some nonpunitive strategies to keep him in class and get him to do the work? Or at the very least, keep him in class not doing the work (is he disruptive or just noncompliant)? I believe that learning can take place even if they child isn't actually doing the work - by removing your son from the classroom, they completely eliminate any possibility of learning.

    Isolation for refusing to do work is really pretty extreme to my eye.
  8. pepperidge

    pepperidge New Member

    You guys are great. Just the shot in the arm I need for the iEP meeting tomorrow. I think you are right on the money about using the room because staff are frustrated or because they want to engage in a power struggle. He is not disruptive I believe. It is not a locked room , more of a high school time out room. I think I will ask to see the research that says that this is an effective way to motivate depressed children with learning and self esteem issues.

    Oh, but before they put him in this room they send him to principal or proxy for a talking to about how we all have to do hard things and that in about three years or some other lifetime maybe there will be a course at school that might possibly be of interest. From a difficult child point of view with executive functioning difficulties that prevent him from thinking further than about 20 min out, 3 years is pretty much a life sentence. I think I would be pretty bummed out if I were sentenced to life in an institution that didn't have a whole lot to offer me.