Are Time-Out Rooms Too Much?

By Christina A. Samuels — October 20, 2008 1 min read
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The Associated Press ran a compelling article this weekend about the use of “time-out” rooms for students with disabilities.

After failing to finish a reading assignment, 8-year-old Isabel Loeffler was sent to the school's time-out room — a converted storage area under a staircase — where she was left alone for three hours. The autistic Iowa girl wet herself before she was finally allowed to leave. Appalled, her parents removed her from the school district and filed a lawsuit. Some educators say time-out rooms are being used with increased frequency to discipline children with behavioral disorders. And the time-outs are probably doing more harm than good, they add.

What the article couldn’t say is how often “time outs” are used, because no one seems to keep systematic records of that kind of punishment. To my readers: is it your sense that the use of time-out rooms is increasing? A special education professor quoted in the story said that such rooms could be used effectively when coupled with social skills training, but that it rarely seems to happen that way. Does that seem to be an accurate assessment?

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A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.