Scream Rooms

You had to know I was going to write about this, right?

So this story turns my stomach and things like this are why we are hesitant to send Max to public school next year.

On one hand, as a parent of a child with special needs I do understand that there are different ways to help different children. There are children who have behaviors that can bring a classroom to a halt and the parents and teachers have discussed a way to handle those behaviors. On the other hand, I wonder whether if a child has the need to be in a windowless room and scream during the school day, perhaps that school setting is not the right one. And how is that child treated by the other children in the class when he/she comes out and they all know he/she’s been in there screaming and kicking at a barricaded door? Talk about trauma for both a kid locked in that room and for the children witnessing/hearing it.

It appears per this article that these rooms are being used for children other than for whom they were intended. They are supposed to be for kids who have it written into their IEP (Individualized Education Plan). This means that the parents of those children signed off on the use of these rooms. IEPs are binding, legal documents which are signed by the parents and the school. There isn’t anything in them that parents don’t know about. However, at some point, I’m sure a teacher had become so frustrated with a “typical” child’s behavior that she/he placed him/her into that room, unbeknownst to the parent. This is not ok with me at all.

In general, I don’t really understand the use of scream rooms for the children with special needs they were built for, but I can’t judge treatment choices for children who are not my own nor do I consider it an acceptable form of classroom discipline for typical children. As things stand right now, I would not write this into Max’s IEP as an acceptable form of behavior management. I don’t want them anywhere near classrooms where the “therapy” will impact any other child. I also know, that as I research towns to move to, Middletown will not be on my list.

11 thoughts on “Scream Rooms

  1. Schools and their help for special needs children needs to improve!! It is so difficult for parents and for the students.

    I know a school that hired an aide without interviewing them. Isn’t that unbeleivable? I now know why some years my daughter has learnt very little.


  2. When my son was young (Kindergarten until about 3rd grade) he was diagnosed with “Overstimulation Disorder” I never heard of it before but here’s how it worked: When too much was requested of him he would just shut down and loose it! Yelling and crying and crumpling to the floor. He just couldn’t do another thing!

    The teacher would take him over to a quiet area of the classroom to sit on a bean bag chair and “get it together”. He wasn’t being punished because he couldn’t help the behavior. It was a chance to gather himself up and start again.

    The process was passed on to each new teacher and something that worked for him. The idea was to teach him to recognize when he had reached his limit. Eventually he began asking to go sit in the bean bag on his own. The teacher would of course agree and he would rejoin the class when he was ready.

    No one locked him in a room! I would never agree to something like that! But what’s frightening is that he would have most likely been the kind of kid they would put in that room! He goes to public school, but our schools are a wonderful support to our “special” kids.

    He is now 17 years old, looking into college to become a teacher himself. Imagine how his world would have changed, had they locked him in a room and made him feel like a freak, a horrible person who deserves to be locked up! I hope they close these rooms down and never use them again!


  3. Oh I hear you about the problems at home. I’ve seen it first-hand many times. I agree that things need to change. Parents are advocates for their children and need to speak up more about what they want to see happen. Change at the ground level, in the planning and administration of schools, is a great place to start. I count myself as lucky and thankful that I’m able to provide a stable home for my kids. I can’t imagine the stress and heartache involved as a parent in feeling like things are such a mess at home that children are not having their needs met.


  4. Totally agree, but nothing will change locally until things change in Washington. We need to start having more of a say at what goes on 8-3 but we wont until the goverment stops running it all. Private schools are run so much better and don’t see the same problems, of course many can’t aford them because of cost but doesn’t mean public cant learn from them. Since a lot won’t change in public schools soon, the best place we can start is at home and for those that need the extra help we can give it when we can. Many of these kids come from homes full of drugs, parents not around after school, etc. Many of these parents are trying their best in this hard economy, but doesn’t mean they need to push their children aside and bring drugs and crime into their lives. Many of these children bounce around from home to home because a parent got arrested one night for drugs or stealing and the child ends up at another home for a night to just go back a night or two later. This kind of crazyness doesn’t help them in any way. Many of us grew up in stable homes and didn’t see this kind od behavor, but spnd a few days in one of the schools in one of our cities and it opens up a different door for everyone. Until I started working with people from all over CT and getting to know how it was in their children’s schools and the parents they deal with, I was blinded by what went on in other towns. Schools need to change, but if children are not brought up in a home where they are well taken care of and allowed to be kids, we can’t expexct our schools to be able to change them/help them because at home is where they learn who they really are. Until schools and home work hand and hand, we can’t expect anything to change. School is not a babysitter but a place to expand children’s knowledge that first begins at home.


  5. Yea, it’s really sad that things have gotten to this point in so many cases. From my perspective, as a teacher, blaming the parents is irrelevant. There are a million things are going on outside school in students’ homes, many due to the rough financial state of things right now (in my opinion, at least) that schools can’t change. We can only change what happens from 8-3. I think there need to be huge, sweeping changes to what goes on in that 8-3 block. Schools need to start thinking about what would be best for the kids again and teach and help the whole child, not just the test scores…but that’s just my thinking. 🙂 I don’t know how many others are on board with this line of thinking…


  6. The way things are in school now a days has made recess the only privalege. With all the standarding testing renquired, no child left behind, etc the only thing they have outside of sitting down doing work all day is recess and gym. We need to start letting kids be kids again, but many are not. In this school a couple years ago, a child (she was in 2ndor 3rd grade) had not been picked up after an after school activity. By the time they finally got a hold of her mother (it was around 5pm by now) the mother said just let her walk. She lived over 5miles away and the mother refused to come get her and said she always waked. One of the teachers ended up having to drive her home. Another insadent was a student around the same age they found out was getting himself up in the morning, making his own breakfast and lunch, and getting himself on the bus because his dad was always sleeping. When the school looked into it, the father wasn’t sleeping because he worked late but he was always hung over in the mornings and no one knew where his mom was.


  7. I disagree that recess counts as a privilege. I think this thinking is part of the problem. I think the changes in how we “do school” in the past 20 years or so has contributed to these behaviors that we never used to see. Young kids, ages 5, 6, 7, 8 years old, are not wired for sitting at a desk for hours with the immense pressure to raise their test scores. Recess, and other gross motor activities, are just as vital to their development as learning to read in the younger grades. It’s counterintuitive that kids who have a hard time sitting still are made to miss recess (which is already short) and sit still for longer times.


  8. This article did turn my stomach when i read it as well, but I also went on to do some additional research on this topic. We all know the news sometimes does show one side of the story while leaving out my parts. During my research I did find this was a “time out room” which is used in many school around the state and was only called a scream room after someone made a comment one day.
    Know it may have been over used and used for the wrong reasons, I have not had a chance yet to talk to my friend who does work at this school, but I have heard from her and other teaches at this school that there are many children at this school who are acting out in ways they have trouble handling and the district just pushes them aside. She has had 2nd graders(yes 2nd grades) stab themselves over and over with pencils, beat her with objects, distroy the room, beat up each other, etc. And she is left to deal with it in her normal room and when parents are called they don’t care and get made at her when she takes privlages away like recess because of their actions.
    I do feel these time out rooms need to be looked at to make sure they are being used correctly. But the bigger picture is looking at our schools and parents and how they are handling children whom do need that extra attention.


  9. As a teacher finishing my M.S. in Elementary Ed., I found this entire scenario appalling. I cannot understand why this would seem like an acceptable option for any student. I wonder how this “modification” was worded in the I.E.P. I’d love to read how it was described to the parents. I have serious doubts that they were given a description of what is actually happening. I can fully understand and appreciate overstimulation and the need to have a calm, quiet place to re-settle one’s self. However, as a teacher, I would think this could happen in a calming area with a trained adult. I’ve seen areas involving beanbag chairs, pillows, and other calming items (things to hold, etc) along with that child’s para or special education teacher with whom he or she is comfortable. This is what is appropriate, in my opinion. I don’t think what was described in this article is at all a “least restrictive environment” for the special needs child. Quite the opposite.

    As for putting students without I.E.P.s in this…without the supposed “parental consent” they had written into the I.E.P., I don’t see how that’s not abusive. I can’t even imagine what I would do if I were a parent of a child in this scenario. I’m all for parents being accountable for instilling good discipline at home, of course, but there’s a huge difference between abuse and teaching. Yikes. This is terrifying.


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