Waupun school puts boy with Asperger’s in ‘the box’
Colleen Kotke reports from Wisconsin:
Last fall, Mandy Rennhack was determined that her autistic son would never again be placed inside “the box.”
“The box,” a pressed plywood structure, was used to control her 9-year-old son, Ty, early in the school year after he had a “meltdown” at Rock River Intermediate School.
“I immediately called for a meeting with the special education team to update his IEP (individualized education plan) and tell them that Ty was never to go back in there, that they should call me and I would come immediately to pick him up,” said the Waupun mother.
Rennhack was stunned to learn from Ty that he had been placed inside the box again on March 27 — this time for a good portion of the morning.
“No one at school had contacted me. I had to hear it from my son,” she said.
Rennhack went to the school the next day and was told Ty — who has Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder — had refused to comply with a directive from his teacher. When he began pacing the room, he was told to either stand in the corner or he would be placed in the “quiet box” — a free-standing room measuring seven feet deep by five feet wide just under eight feet tall. The empty padded room stands on a bare, tile floor, has no ventilation system, and opens with a handle on the door that can be locked from the outside.
Interim district administrator Donald Childs says putting a child whose behavior has the potential to cause harm to himself or others into a secluded padded room until the episode subsides is a legal and accepted practice in the state.
Read more about this story on Green Bay Press Gazette.
This is yet another example of why we need a federal law prohibiting the use of seclusion except for instances of imminent danger to self or others.