October 28, 2015: There are reports that an autistic student was locked inside a small room with the windows boarded up at a primary school in Queensland.
A nine-year-old boy with autism has been repeatedly locked inside a small room with a mattress and pillow at his Queensland primary school, because his teacher said he needed a “time out”.
Tate Smith was detained in the room with boarded-up windows up to 20 times in the past year at Kawungan State School, near Fraser Island, with his mother Kelly-Ann Brooks describing the room as a “cell”.
“He doesn’t want to go back to school and his behaviour has really spiralled this year,” Ms Brooks told The Courier Mail.
“For me, it’s like my son being in a cell like some kind of common criminal.”
The news has been met with outrage, with the CEO of Autism Awareness Australia, Nicole Rogerson, saying the actions reflected a lack of understanding and training in teachers who have students with autism in their care.
“I can’t believe this is happening again, I can’t believe we’re having this conversation again,” Ms Rogerson told TODAY Show host Karl Stefanovic this morning.
“There’s a way to manage children with autism, and there’s a way not (to), and clearly people just don’t get it.”
Ms Rogerson said in Tate’s case, the situation had gotten out of control.
“It’s absolutely not acceptable to detain children, period,” she said.
Patra Walton, the Deputy Director-General of State Schools in Queensland, yesterday said the matter was now under investigation.
“The situation is unacceptable and when it was brought to my attention yesterday I immediately ordered the school to stop using the room,” she said in a statement.
“The room is now being dismantled and the matter is being investigated.”