Scream Rooms the New Norm?

I had never heard of a scream room before today. I have heard of autistic or emotionally disturbed children being restrained when acting out (which I STILL don’t agree with) but the idea of a scream room makes my blood boil. What is a scream room you ask? A scream room or recovery room is a secluded room with concrete floors, padded walls, and no windows. When a child acts out they are put into this room and at times also restrained. Most of the children who end up in these rooms have some sort of disability such as autism.


Efforts by NPR and ProPublica to investigate this outrageous practice uncovered 267,000 instances nationwide throughout the 2011-2012 school year during which students were locked and restrained in seclusion rooms, with more than 75 percent of those cases involving children with disabilities, according to information provided by the U.S. Department of Education’s Civil Rights Data.

Do parents know about this? If my son’s school has a room like this, I certainly have no clue. If he were put in a scream room I would also likely never find out as he doesn’t communicate well and the school would have no obligation to tell me unless they had to use restraints. You heard that right. Schools only have to notify parents IF restraints are used in the process of secluding the child.


The 2011-2012 school year was the first time reporting seclusion and restraint was mandatory for schools, reports Texas Monthly. However, in many cases, schools were not required to notify parents when their children were placed in scream rooms unless the staff had to physically restrain them.

When you hear the details of what children go through when put into these horrible rooms and what the outcomes have been like for some children, which include being physically harmed or dying in the process it is heartbreaking.


With seclusion practices, children are routinely locked in padded isolation rooms for hours without bathroom breaks or monitoring. Given the nickname that sounds right at home in an Eli Roth film, it’s no wonder these so-called scream rooms have been host to their fair share of tragic incidents. In 2004, 13-year-old Jonathan King hanged himself in a concrete isolation room in his Georgia school using a cord he’d been given as a belt. It was not his first time in the “time-out” space; he had repeatedly asked not to be confined there and had threatened suicide to teachers weeks earlier.

The thought or the mere possibility of my child, who isn’t violent in the least, being put into a scream room makes me want to yank him out of school. He can’t be left alone in a room for one second without freaking out. He ALWAYS has to have someone in his line of vision. If he were put into a scream room I can just see him having a massive panic attack and hyperventilating and God only knows what else. However, how would anyone know as they likely wouldn’t care or hear his screams for help.

The bottom line is that I rely on the public school system for my sons therapies and and the learning plans created to fit his specific needs. It is NOT the schools job to discipline my child. If my child is a problem I expect to be notified immediately and I WILL DEAL WITH HIM AS HIS MOTHER. If I don’t use force on my child, I don’t expect anyone else to be allowed to. I understand some children, especially those with disabilities, can become unruly and even violent but individuals who go into the profession of teaching these children should be well equipped and ready to know how to deal with these situations in a manner that isn’t damaging.

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