Concerns voiced over autistic children locked in Isolation Rooms in PEI schools

James Aylward opposition MEP

James Aylward opposition MEP

Prince Edward Island, Canada – Concerns have been voiced due to cases of autisctic children being locked in isolation rooms in schools on Prince Edward Island, Canada.

During question time or period as known on the island, concerned parents told provincial legislature, opposition MPA James Aylward that children with autism were being removed from mainstream classes and placed unsupervised, and sometimes even locked in isolation rooms.

He questioned the educational secretary on why this was occurring, and also asked why parents were asked to sign a form permitting teachers to use isolation rooms.

He said:

“I recently spoke to a mother, and in fact on the first day, her child was put in one of these isolation rooms, if they don’t sing the form, their child is not allowed to attend school. If that’s not coercion I don’t know what is.”

Education Minister Allan McIsaac acknowledged isolation rooms are used in some instances in P.E.I. schools.

“Sometimes not every child can stay in the classroom, it’s not healthy for the child, it’s not healthy for the rest of the classroom and sometimes they may have to go off to an isolation room. Even though we have an inclusive system where we want our students to be in the classroom, at some point in the day or some point in the class, something might set off a child with autism so that it’s distractive to the classroom and uncomfortable for that child”

He commented that these rooms were meant as quiet places to ‘quieten down’ children who were agitated.

A mother of one child, Tonya Llywellyn who is planning to make a human rights complaint on behalf of her son said:

“Maybe their idea of addressing a recommendation is not quite the same as a parent would expect from this actually happening.

“If you actually work with these children when they’re young, they can learn to make eye contact, they can learn to be an integrated member of society, they can be productive, but you actually have to put the time and effort in and that’s where a lot of parents struggle.”