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Profoundly disabled boy put in ‘holding cell’ at Western Australian school to constrain him

The father of a severely disabled child has told the harrowing story of how his son was put in a ‘detention cell’ at school during an investigation.

Edward Croft spoke at the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disabilities on Tuesday about seeing for the first time the room in which his son Ryan was being held.

The Western Australian school turned a closet into a “time out” room it called a “retention cell” to lock up Ryan.

One day Ryan’s brother saw that teachers were carrying Ryan, who was screaming, by his arms and legs.

Croft told the Canberra committee that Ryan, now 20 years old, is completely non-verbal and “struggling to make sense of the world”.

Ryan Croft (pictured), now 20 years old, is completely non-verbal and 'struggling to make sense of the world'

Ryan Croft (pictured), now 20 years old, is completely non-verbal and ‘struggling to make sense of the world’

He attended a regular school in the regional WA, but his behavior got more and more difficult with relapses over the years.

“The school tried … but they were incapable and unprepared … not trained to handle a child of my Ryan’s nature,” Mr. Croft said.

His difficult behavior in Years 3 and 4 led his teacher to separate Ryan from his classmates by moving his desk to a corner.

While there, he was surrounded by blackboards and could not see any other students.

Although Mr Croft, who is a teacher himself, acknowledged that Ryan’s teacher was “well-intentioned”, he believed his son was being cornered out of convenience.

Not understanding the idea of ​​danger, Ryan always ran away from his teaching assistants, often leaving the school grounds and crossing the road.

That is why the school wanted to build an enclosed space for Ryan that could be closed off from the outside.

Ryan can be put in for a “time out” to “restrain himself” or sent there for bad behavior.

“The locked room was an empty walk-in closet, about 1.5 meters wide and 2-3 meters deep,” said senior adviser to the commission Kate Eastman.

Edward Croft (pictured) said the school his disabled son attended was not trained in how to handle a child of his nature

Edward Croft (pictured) said the school his disabled son attended was not trained in how to handle a child of his nature

“The walls were painted pink. There was a beanbag, there was a window in the door.’

Mr. Croft and his wife felt they had no choice but to agree to the proposal, as the school was having a hard time managing Ryan.

“It really hurt us a lot to know that our son was placed in this place,” he told the inquest.

Mr Croft said in his statement read to the committee that at the time they did not have the courage to speak out about the cabinet despite being bothered by it.

“I remember my wife crying,” he said, “we absolutely hated this. But we felt we had to acquiesce.

Edward Croft (pictured right) said his youngest son had seen 'two or three male teachers carrying the screaming Ryan on his arms and legs'

Edward Croft (pictured right) said his youngest son had seen ‘two or three male teachers carrying Ryan by his arms and legs’

“Our youngest son came home from school one day very worried and we had to comfort him.

“He told us he saw two or three male teachers carry the screaming Ryan by the arms and legs.”

Mr Croft said Ryan could not understand the punishment or explain how it affected him.

“Ryan can’t explain himself, I’m his only voice,” he said.

The committee continues.

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