Autistic boy reportedly put in isolation room 100 times; is this school’s fault?

Dec 7, 2014, 1:56 AM | Updated: 1:57 am

Parents at a Redmond school are not happy after learning their autistic son has reportedly been placed in a carpeted isolation room 100 times this year.

KOMO reports Nigel Burns was placed in the room after outbursts that sometimes included behaviors like hitting or pinching. The boy reportedly injured two staff members earlier this year.

Nigel’s parents acknowledge their son can be difficult, but they tell KOMO they’re appalled by the treatment he’s getting.

KIRO Radio’s Ron & Don say this is a difficult case because nobody wants to see the kid being put in that room, but the school can’t just allow that kind of behavior in the classroom. Don thinks maybe the answer is finding a more appropriate school for the boy.

“If that little boy has been sent to that room 100 times, I feel bad for him that he’s been sent to that room. I think he needs to go to a different type of school where when he’s attacking children or attacking staff members that he can get one-on-one with somebody.”

Students with special needs just sometimes require a different type of instruction, Don said.

“There’s a reason why there are special educators out there who understand kids with special needs. I just think he’s at the wrong school right now.”

Ron said he ran into a case similar when he was working at a teen center in Bellevue.

“There was a situation that arose where a father who was a single dad wanted to bring his son to the teen center every day after school,” Ron said. “Because this was a city building and because it was with the City of Bellevue Parks Department, he wanted us to then take care of his kid.

“Now, his son could not use the bathroom on his own. So one day, they brought him in and they were going to train me up. I had to lift this kid off his wheelchair, take down his pants, put him on the toilet, do the wiping and the whole deal.”

At the time, Ron was the supervisor at the teen center overseeing a staff of four or five and 50 kids each afternoon. He said it became clear he couldn’t be responsible for the kind of care this particular teen required in addition to his other responsibilities.

“I had to call the family, I called my boss, and I said, ‘Look I’ve got 50, 60 kids here every day and I’ve got a staff of 4 or 5 people I’m in charge of. I can’t go every day, every time this kid has to go to the bathroom five days a week. I’m just not qualified to do this.'”

“I think there are people who expect a school district or expect someone to go above and beyond,” Ron said. “They think my kid has a right to go to school. Yes, he does, but in certain situations, those teachers have 30 kids in that class. This kid, it seems like he needs an environment where he has one-on-one supervision and not every family can afford that.”

Don thinks a different environment would be better for this boy and said there are resources out there to help kids with special needs.

“There are a lot of programs. Detlef Schrempf, for instance, has a special needs son and he’s raised millions and millions of dollars to help take care of kids like this – who might fall through the cracks, where the parents don’t have the dough,” Don said.

“These parents are threatening legal action. I think they’re just going down the wrong road. They just need to find the right school. You can find the funding. The funding is out there for special needs kids.”

Ron agreed, saying it sounds like the school he’s currently in just is not equipped to deal with his needs.

“They don’t have the tools. It’s not the school’s fault. I don’t think every school can handle every situation.”

Ron and Don

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Autistic boy reportedly put in isolation room 100 times; is this school’s fault?