Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Chill out rooms

Exactly what it says on the label – it causes chills to occur.  I have a proper issue with time out rooms, chill out spaces and anything else you might want to call them.   I have just found yet another article in Autism Eye on the abuse of chill-out rooms.  It is all so true, yet not a soul seems to do anything about it.  Stardust will tell you how much he despises the places too, he will tell you in such graphic detail that you will be moved beyond words.

We have had endured a slow moving few days and eventually just yesterday we made some headway.  After a meltdown of severe proportions Stardust opened up his heart and soul to me and cried and cried and cried.  He cried so heavily that I thought that half of Newcastle may have gone under water; we had puddles on the floor made from his tears.

.....so two years later we still have to endure the flashbacks of the so called well intentioned staff, the staff that we trusted with the care of our precious child.  The staff that insisted that Stardust was manipulating situations and purposefully being difficult, the staff that told us that Stardust should be given drugs to calm him down, the staff that were only interested in conformity and pushing their philosophy of tough love onto him.  The list could go on and it will in our heads.  Stardust is 9 years old and his life is one huge obstacle, he doesn’t need to be involved with individuals that have a limited understanding, he doesn’t need the added stress. He needs compassion, he needs guidance and he needs people around him that he can trust fully.

I would love for Alfie Kohn to pay the management at that place a visit, he would have so many words and so many clever ways of describing things that the staff would be squirming.  As it happens I could not articulate myself, I could not because my emotions were so charged.  I regret the fact I have not had my say – although it would I am sure have made little difference.  They were adamant that their way is the best and only way and we disagreed.  Stardust stood his ground and fought against it.  He knows what is right and wrong and he knew that he was being bullied by people that should have known better.

He said to me yesterday that he is one of the lucky ones, one of the children who were saved by their Mummy.  He worries about the children left behind, he says to me every now and again that he hopes they have found their voice to tell someone what is happening.   This is the sad reality of what goes through his ever thinking and tick tocking brain.  He is not lucky, he should never have been in that horrendous situation.  

Unless you are a parent who has been through this torment and experience the emotions you feel when you find out facts like ‘yes your child was guided (restrained) 12 x in 9 days’ and ‘yes he sat under a table most of the day’ you can never ever pass comment.  You cannot ever understand however hard you try.  I know because I am a very sensitive and empathic person and the emotions felt and still feel relating to this incident are like nothing else.  They fuel something you cannot describe.  It is inappropriate extortionate abuse and there is no getting away from it. 

Stardust went through this and then was literally dropped like a brick from another planet.  He was left floating in the galaxy trying to find his way through.   I have such a fabulous family, we immediately put therapies into place for him, I ensured he had some support and he had positive people around him.  Along the way I have made mistakes, I have made wrong choices and I have trusted the wrong people.  We all learn and we move on.  Time heals wounds and all that....just sometimes it hurts because time is too slow.



  1. My understanding of true tough love ;is the strong poweful love that helps you keep going, that enduring constant that you find deep down inside that compels you to find a way and a truth. I have never met an asd person that doesn't have this , admittedly some have been left in the cold for so long there is bitterness and anger on the surface but they all recognise love.heres to more love in the world xx

  2. Thank you for your message. I think in the occurrences of schools and even some parents coining the phrase 'tough love' it is terminology that could be descried as being cruel to be kind and in my eyes takes an authoritarian approach. In our experience that was definitely the case.
    Definitely more love in the world - big shout out for that :-) x

  3. Oh my word, just reading this put a knot in my stomach. I find it totally unbelievable that children could be treated in such a manner. I recall visiting a school in the UK and being with a child and his teacher when they went into a sensory type of room in order for the child to regulate. It was lovely with all the soft cushions, low lights and a long tall light that contained big moving bubbles. I thought this is what a chill out room was. The teacher was amazing and so respectful. Perhaps I was just lucky to visit a really good school. I am so sorry that Stardust had to experience such grief. xx

  4. Thank you for commenting. I think it is great you had such a positive experience in a school in the UK - it helps to keep the faith and I am sure there are some fabulous settings out there.

    Much of the time I believed that staff thought they are doing the right thing, they just had a lack of understanding - not excusable, however I hope that is the case; it makes it marginally more bearable.

    I do appreciate how tough it can be if a child is aggressive, however I also know how to help children without being didactic and pressuring them. It is not easy and takes a certain person but always possible and in our case essential.