Family of autistic boy in seclusion room want families to 'stand up'

Family of autistic boy in seclusion room want families to 'stand up'

The parents of an autistic child locked in a "seclusion room" are demanding accountability from his former school.

It follows a Ministry of Education report into the method of punishment at Miramar Central School that labelled the practice "outdated".

Baxter Mansfield will start a new school next week - a tough transition for any six-year-old, and especially for one with autism.

But Baxter's parents felt they had no other option after he was punished by being sent to a locked seclusion room.

"When things like this come about, we're trying so hard to stop them and then they're happening right under your nose," Baxter's father, Jeremy, said.

Revelations about the use of a seclusion room at Miramar Central School prompted an investigation by the Ministry of Education. Its report found the rooms are ineffective, and the Chief Ombudsman will investigate their use.

The family were thankful it was uncovered before it caused lasting damage to their son.

"We understand it's had a huge impact on other children who have seen the inside of that room," Mr Mansfield said.

Baxter's parents said they were devastated to learn he was placed in the room, and now Autism New Zealand is calling for more teacher education.

"The Ministry of Education doesn't have a handle on it, so if it's happening in this school, we know of other schools where it's happening and we know of other schools that use restraints - so how do we help?" Autism New Zealand chief executive Dane Dougan said.

Meanwhile, the Mansfield family said it was time there was accountability. They believed the school had fronted for the media, but not the parents.

"The administration needs to stand up to the public of the school and all of the families - not just the ones involved, all of them," Mr Mansfield said.

The door on the seclusion room has now been removed.

In a statement, the school said it was working to ensure recommended changes were implemented as soon as possible, and said it was considering options on how to reengage the community.