A judge ruled that shutting Melanie-Rose in that "tiny, windowless room" was discrimination based on her disability. An autistic child "should not have been left, even briefly and for the best of motives, alone in a small room from which she could not get out."
Melanie-Rose's mother is quoted as saying: "I know that despite what anyone says, regardless of their disability, you don't treat children like this. I wanted to fight this no matter what. I wanted to fight for her and for all the other kids out there in similar situations."
Not so long ago, the Boston Globe reported on practices at the New England Center for Children, a school that uses ABA-based interventions with autistic individuals. The NECC is one of the most admired, most popular, most important, and most influential (in research and practice) ABA schools in the world. Here is how the Boston Globe story starts:
When a particular student acts up, Amy Giles sometimes places the girl in a tiny, windowless room and closes the door. Then Giles stands outside the closet-like chamber, waiting patiently until the child settles down.
If it were another child, it might seem cruel. But Giles, a Westborough resident, is probably that student's best chance for a quality education. Giles teaches at the New England Center for Children on Route 9 in Southborough, a school that is at the forefront of educating children with autism, a neurological disorder that dramatically inhibits the way a child learns.
"We don't want to be the biggest program for autism," said Judy Cunniff Serio, director of administration. "We want to be the best."