I just read the umpteenth story about the use of a time-out room in schools in the United States. It’s about the Isabel Loeffler case again, the girl who was locked up in a time-out room for over three hours. I have no clue whether time-out can legally be used on children in the Netherlands. The law about restraint and time-out applies to children over age twelve only, but I’m not sure what would be done with younger children. In any case, a teacher or anyone who isn’t a doctor could never decide independently to put someone into time-out.
One thing I noticed in the Yahoo! News story about this case, is that a behavioral therapist was claiming that time-out might be reinforcing, so the child’s behavior would get worse. The rationale is that autistic children don’t like to be around others so would love to be isolated. Uh-huh, sure! If there is one single thing that might possibly be rewarding about being in a time-out room, it would be that there is fewer stimulation there, but this is very rarely truly the case. Besides, this tiny reward could easily be annihilated by the lack of control and uncertainty that someone locked up in a time-out room feels, which gets only worse if, like this girl, you’d get locked up for something nonsensical like “not listening”. In my opinion, there is absolutely no use for a time-out room in schools.