Parents claim special needs student tied to chair with seat belt

Katrina Blowers

More Queensland parents of special needs children are coming forward with claims of mistreatment in schools.

They say the use of ‘time out’ rooms is common practice. One family says their son was regularly strapped to a chair with a car seat belt.

Eight-year-old Sonny Jarvis goes to the same Hervey Bay special school accused of locking another autistic boy in a small ‘time out’ room.

Eight-year-old Sonny Jarvis goes to the same Hervey Bay special school accused of locking another autistic boy in a small ‘time out’ room.  Photo: 7 News
Eight-year-old Sonny Jarvis goes to the same Hervey Bay special school accused of locking another autistic boy in a small ‘time out’ room. Photo: 7 News

His mother Skye Palmer says her son has also been shut in that room at least a dozen times.

“The way the treated Sonny, the way they didn’t really communicate with us,” Ms Palmer said.

“He’s had to eat lunch in that room.

“And until someone yesterday said what was going on I just thought… finally.“

The small ‘time out’ room. Photo: 7 News
The small ‘time out’ room. Photo: 7 News

Another family at a different Hervey Bay school has also come forward with claims of mistreatment.

Lynette Nolan and Cary White’s 13-year-old son Daniel has a rare type of epilepsy.

“He’s been strapped into the chair at school so he couldn’t get up and walk around,” Lynette told 7 News.

13-year-old Daniel was strapped into a chair at school so he couldn't walk around. Photo: 7 News
13-year-old Daniel was strapped into a chair at school so he couldn't walk around. Photo: 7 News

She says teachers at Hervey Bay special school used a car seat belt to tie him down.

“So then they didn’t have to worry about where he was."

Principals have told 7 News that disciplinary tactics to control students with special needs are known as aversion therapy.

In one case a teacher was suspended after being caught shooting a water pistol filled with salt water into the eyes of children.

More Queensland parents of special needs children are coming forward with claims of mistreatment in schools. Photo: 7 News
More Queensland parents of special needs children are coming forward with claims of mistreatment in schools. Photo: 7 News

Loganlea mother Karen Harris has three sons with autism.

She says she’s seen a special needs child suffer physical violence at the hands of a teacher’s aide.

“I’ve seen children being pushed when they’re actually needing space,” she said.

She’s joining the call for more teacher training to deal with their children.

“These children aren’t being naughty,” Ms Harris said.