Teachers Lock Autistic Children In A Dark Room As A Form Of Punishment. How Can We Prevent Such Abuse?

Family & Kids

February 1, 2019 17:02 By Mambee

It's unfortunate that child abuse continues to be a major problem in our society. Imagine being an autistic child struggling to fit in and understand the world only for those who are supposed to care for you to be the ones making life even more difficult. 

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According to the Interactive Autism Network, one out of four children with autism who require psychiatric care had a history of abuse. Another study found that 9 percent of typically-developing children have been abused compared to 31 percent of children with disabilities. Children in the spectrum were more likely to be physically abused than those who aren't.

Teachers Lock Autistic Children In A Dark Room As A Form Of Punishment. How Can We Prevent Such Abuse?Teachers Lock Autistic Children In A Dark Room As A Form Of Punishment. How Can We Prevent Such Abuse?Teachers Lock Autistic Children In A Dark Room As A Form Of Punishment. How Can We Prevent Such Abuse?Teachers Lock Autistic Children In A Dark Room As A Form Of Punishment. How Can We Prevent Such Abuse?Tatyana Dzemileva / Shutterstock.com

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While we can hazard a few guesses as to the cause of these depressing numbers, our main focus should be on preventing kids from being victims.

A cruel form of punishment

A teacher and two aides have been accused of abusing autistic children by locking them in a dark room and blowing whistles close to their ears.

In an announcement made by the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office earlier this week, Sheriff Larry Ashley said a teacher's aide at the school reported the abuse.

According to the statement, the teacher, Margaret Wolthers, and the aides, Carolyn Madison and Diana LaCroix, were abusing a 10-year-old and two 8-year-olds who were on the autism spectrum.

Ashley revealed that the teacher and the aides would sometimes blow a whistle in the ear of one of the children who had a low sensory auditory threshold as punishment for misbehavior. As they did this, they would hold down the child's arm to keep him from covering his ears.

Teachers Lock Autistic Children In A Dark Room As A Form Of Punishment. How Can We Prevent Such Abuse?Teachers Lock Autistic Children In A Dark Room As A Form Of Punishment. How Can We Prevent Such Abuse?Teachers Lock Autistic Children In A Dark Room As A Form Of Punishment. How Can We Prevent Such Abuse?Teachers Lock Autistic Children In A Dark Room As A Form Of Punishment. How Can We Prevent Such Abuse?Africa Studio / Shutterstock.com

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The Sheriff's office also revealed that the three students were locked in a classroom bathroom as punishment as well. 

(They were locked) individually, and on separate occasions in a classroom bathroom with the door closed and lights off as punishment for misbehavior.

The culprits are being investigated.

How to protect your child

When you have a child on the autism spectrum, you have to pay special attention to the school you send them to. Here are a few things to think about when choosing a school.

  • After selecting some schools that look promising, contact other parents in the area to know what they think;
  • Visit your preferred school and make sure you look at it through the perspective of your autistic child. Will they be happy there?
  • Ask questions. Never be too shy to ask about things that aren't clear to you. Take it as a red flag if the school dodges your questions or make you feel like you're bothering them.
  • Stay on top of things. You should always check in to see that things are going well at the school. Raise any concerns you may have and keep communication lines between you and the school open.

Teachers Lock Autistic Children In A Dark Room As A Form Of Punishment. How Can We Prevent Such Abuse?Teachers Lock Autistic Children In A Dark Room As A Form Of Punishment. How Can We Prevent Such Abuse?Teachers Lock Autistic Children In A Dark Room As A Form Of Punishment. How Can We Prevent Such Abuse?Teachers Lock Autistic Children In A Dark Room As A Form Of Punishment. How Can We Prevent Such Abuse?kobps2 / Shutterstock.com

It's also important to look out for signs that your kid may be experiencing abuse at school.

Being a parent is tough. And having a child on thespectrum poses some unique challenges. You have to be very protective and observant. If something doesn't feel right, be sure to speak up.

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