Experts respond to recent reports that a 10-year-old autistic boy was placed in a cage at his Canberra primary school.
By Matthew Doran
Autism experts have lamented reports a 10-year-old boy was placed in a cage at a Canberra primary school, saying it signals a national standard for autism education in mainstream schools is urgently required.
ACT Education Minister Joy Burch confirmed the unacceptable “withdrawal space” had been built in a classroom to deal with a student with challenging behaviour.
The two-metre by two-metre area, enclosed in pool fencing, was removed last Friday after a complaint to the Children and Young People’s Commissioner.
The ACT Education and Training Directorate has since launched an independent investigation into the incident, revealed yesterday, on World Autism Awareness Day.
Autism Awareness Australia director Nicole Rogerson said the incident should be seen as a red flag.
“I don’t think you’d have to be a rocket scientist to work out it’s not an appropriate way to manage a child,” she said.
“The truth is, children with autism are often put into education systems with very limited support.
“There’s a teacher who has been in such desperate, dire straits that they’ve seen that this is in any way, shape or form a good idea.”
Mrs Rogerson said there was currently no national standard for teaching students with autism in mainstream schools.
She said more funding and specialist training was needed to make sure all teachers are able to deal with autistic students using industry best practices.