Child locked in room: Disability group hits out

UPDATE: DISABILITY Australia say an autistic boy locked in a small room reflects the culture of low expectations for people with a disability.

Kawungan State School autistic student Tate Smith was locked in a small "cell-like" room without supervision up to 20 times last year.

Children with Disability Australia chief executive officer Stephanie Gotlib said it wasn't the way any student should be treated. 

She said better training for teachers and more resources were needed along with the elimination of the culture of low expectations for people with a disability.

"There is a real crisis in education at the moment with students with disability where schools simply don't have the capacity to provide quality education for students with disability.

"Those broader issues need to be addressed before more harm is done to children."

Ms Gotlib believed Tate was locked in the room as a form of discipline.

She said his behaviour and engagement with his learning should have been analysed.

"This is a child who should be enriched and extended through his education," she said.

"If he was disengaged with his learning, like any other child we look at why is he disengaged with his learning."


A HERVEY Bay mother has vowed to take her autistic son out of a local state school after he was locked inside a small room with the windows boarded up.

Tate Smith, 9, was locked in the room unsupervised up to 20 times in the last year, left with just a thin mattress on the floor and a pillow, the Courier-Mail reported.

Mother Kelly-Ann Brooks said her son, a Year 3 student at Kawungan State School, had been left distraught by the ordeal.

She described the 2x2m room as "cell-like".

The Department of Education has now ordered the school to shut down the "unacceptable" room, putting out a warning to all state school principals about proper disciplinary action for students.

An investigation into the incident has also been launched, the paper reported.

The story has prompted an angry reaction by parents of children with disabilities on the Children with Disability Australia Facebook page.

Stephanie Gotlib: “This just reflects to me again that we have got a system in crisis where students with disability are...

Posted by Children with Disability Australia (CDA) on Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Angelika Anderson wrote: "The language used by the school / teachers (disciplinary action) reveals a gross misunderstanding of the child's needs and the causes of behaviours of concern.

"The child needs to be taught in a positive behaviour appropriate ways to behave and communicate his needs. Instead he appears to be systematically taught undesired behaviours.

Kym Goldby wrote: "I am glad to see this coming out into the media more and more. My child suffered this treatment at a previous school. But, the onus comes back onto the state and federal governments.

"You want our children included into main stream education, but you do not supply the adequate training, staff and resources.

"You have also cut back on the private sector for therapies, mental health etc which does not help parents to help their children learn adequate emotional regulation, behaviour strategies.

"Each child/adult on the spectrum is different, no two are the same and no 'blanket' strategy will work.

"Autism is not all Sheldon from BBT, there are a lot more out there who lack the emotional regulation to do these things independently as teachers hope they can,'' she wrote.

"I have removed my child from main stream because of these factors and after being told that he can be charged by police for kicking at an aide who is dragging him away, what world do we live in."

Meryn Turner wrote: "Maybe it's the teacher that's needing the " time out" not the student. Shame on him/her they should have sort help from a more professional source on what to do. More specialized training is needed to be given to teachers so this never happens again."

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