Parents of autistic boy arrested for false imprisonment

In my view they need help not punishment. Parents arrested for using a desperate measure to contain a seriously autistic boy. Healthcare is not free at the point of delivery in the USA, as it is in the UK, and so they may not have been able to afford medical help. What is the situation in your country? What help would a family receive? What would be provided for a child with severe autism whose behaviour is violent and difficult to manage?

The parents of a severely autistic boy have been arrested after California police determined the 11-year-old had been kept in a cage. Authorities said the metal cage was found in the couple’s home in Anaheim with a mattress and other bedding inside. It was roughly 6ft (1.8m) tall, 5ft (1.5m) long and about 4ft (1.2m) wide with room to stand. The boy was not inside when police went to the house. Family members gave investigators varying accounts of how long he had been kept in it, ranging from hours to days.
Early indications were that the family had been having difficulty coping with the boy. It seems that as he grew older his episodes of violence and outbursts were increasing and his parents used the cage to contain him when that was happening,The boy’s severe autism means he cannot communicate and has violent outbursts, which have grown more violent over the years

The boy’s parents, identified by police as Loi Vu, 40, and Tracy Le, 35, were held on suspicion of felony child endangerment and false imprisonment. They are of Vietnamese origin, speak limited English, and investigators were using translators to sort out details in the case.
Officers went to the Anaheim home and arrested the parents after an anonymous tipster called Orange County Child Protective Services.
The child was well-nourished and appeared otherwise healthy and his two siblings, ages eight and 10, were also unharmed. They were all placed in protective custody.

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Well meaning PANTS booklet is too difficult for many children with learning difficulties

A new version of the NSPCC’s successful campaign the Underwear Rule was recently launched to help parents teach children with a learning disability about sexual abuse. The NSPCC and Mencap have joined forces this Child Safety Week to make the popular guide accessible for both parents and children with a learning disability.With more people than ever before contacting the NSPCC helpline (0808 800 5000) about sexual abuse and research indicating that disabled children are three times more vulnerable – both the NSPCC and Mencap are encouraging parents to talk PANTS with their children to help keep them safe.

 

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However, my view is that the booklet is too complex for many children with learning disabilities, The booklet – the PANTS guide – opens with the PANTS  acronym  and an explanation as to its importance:

How to remember the Underwear Rule There is an easy way to remember the Underwear Rule.
Remember the word PANTS.
The first letter from each of the rules makes up the  word PANTS.

P  Privates are private

A  Always remember your body belongs to you

N  No means no

T  Talk about secrets that upset you

S  Speak up. Someone can help

The concept of an acronym is too complex for many children with a learning disability.

Concepts such as  an adult you trust are also too difficult for many children as is the ability to telephone Childline. The concept of the right to say No is also problematic as  children cannot say No to many things such as going to school; having a bath and their hair washed; having their ails cut; washing their hands; or wearing a seat belt in the car.

Children with more severe learning difficulties, particularly those on the autistic spectrum, need simple, straightforward and unequivocal  rules, such as:

  • Someone can only touch you between your legs (or your willie)  if  its Mummy (or other main carer  or Mummy (or other main carer) says it’s OK. (This covers bathing, medical examinations or treatment or similar)
  • If someone tries to touch you ors touches you  between your legs (or your willie) you  must say no and you must tell Mummy (or other main carer) straight away.
  • If someone shows you his willie or ask you to touch it, you should say no and you must tell Mummy (or other main carer) straight away.

It’s important to use words that the child understands for their private parts and to name the person of people that they should tell. And to go over the rules many times.

I’m delighted that efforts are being made to protect children with learning disabilities from abuse; but  something less complex  is needed to give the more vulnerable children, who have least language, least ability to understand and fewest means of making themselves understood. They need simple clear rules – and to be protected by adults.

 

 

I like seeing him. But he doesn’t like seeing me. We go for fish and chips, because that’s his favourite. It’s not my favourite .

 

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Siblings who live with autism may not be thinking in terms of interest and mystery!

Victor gives the poignant  insight into life with an autistic brother used as the title for this post. It’s very difficult for parents to cope with an autistic child and give other children the time and attention they need.

Robert  feels angry and despondent about his severely autistic brother, Barry:

I’m 14 and I have an older 18 year old brother who is autistic and also has severe learning disabilities. He has the understanding and emotions of a 3 year old. He drives me nuts and ruins my life. I can’t have friends over because Barry will get upset because strangers make him nervous. I can’t eat snack foods I like at home because they make Barry too hyper and it wouldn’t be fair if I ate them myself. I have to answer all his ridiculous questions that he asks a million times a day and I have to give him exactly the same answer every time because he will get upset and go into melt down if I say anything different or do not answer him. I always have to take second place in the family because Barry is so “special” and has to be considered first. Barry always comes first because everyone, including my parents are frightened of him.  He also gets often hits me suddenly for no reason and then running away and he is BIG, like 6 feet and 16 stone

On top of it my parents are always saying how I will have to take care of Barry when they get too old. Wonderful. Like I will ever be able to have a wife and family of my own with an autistic brother stuck In my house terrifying everyone. I honestly hate him. He’s even worse than worthless because he makes me miserable and makes my life into hell.

My counsellor always tells me to have patience and that Barry’s special and I have to love and understand him but I know if she had to spend an hour with him she would want to kill him. Everyone who doesn’t live with an autistic person is always talking like that. They are so patient and kind and understanding and tolerant but how would they like my life????? Bet they would go totally insane in a week.

A huge challenge is how to support the Victors and Roberts and their parents in ways that are really helpful to them – as well as acknowledging the reality of the issues that they face.  What are your views on what helps and what doesn’t – particularly if you have faced similar problems or have found ways of helping those who have them.

Does an oversupply of spaces or places for disabled people, particularly wheelchair users, contribute to abuse of the system?

Does the emphasis on provision for wheelchair users – who are less than 8 per cent of disabled people. – discriminate against others with a disability. (The majority of impairments are not visible) Click here for more numerical information about  people with disabilities in the UK.

What are your views? Have you experience or known about abuse of the system? What would improve provision for all disabled people and minimise abuse?

For example, were there too many spaces allocated for disabled people allocated for the football world cup, so that  those paces could never have been filled and police understand that some fans who bought tickets on the black market may have taken wheelchairs in order to get around normal security to enter the stadium. Do you think that these tickets were spare – or were people who really needed them being deprived of the opportunity to attend?

Amid the mad scramble for tickets, some are believed to have acquired concession passes intended for disabled fans. Police will now investigate whether the fans with wheelchairs in the disabled section did indeed require the assistance and have legitimate passes for the area.. Given that the requirement for a wheelchair does not always mean that an individual depends on its assistance all the time, it is a sensitive issue and one which officials are having to probe fully.

In the UK there is a legally government laid down ratio of normal car parking spaces to the minimum required number of disabled spaces provided. The minimum number is 2 marked disabled parking bays or 6% of the total number of bay must be reserved for marked out for disabled parking. Up to 34 bay the requirement is 2 disabled, above 34 bays 6% of the total number of bays must be marked disabled. Is this too many, about right or too few? Should elderly or infirm people, who are unlikely to be classified as disabled be able to use those spaces?

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The Daily Mail says ‘Hundreds of thousands of prime parking spaces in shopping centres are unused because of a legal obligation to provide four times as many disabled bays than are actually needed.Supermarkets, shopping centres and leisure centres must allocate up to 6 per cent of their parking bays for disabled badge holders  –  even though just 1.4 per cent of the population is registered disabled’

Does this mean that non-disabled drivers are more likely to use the spaces as they always seem to be empty?

 

And what about provision in your country? Are parking spaces or other spaces allocated soley for disabled people? If so, how do people qualify to use them? What provision is made in places of entertainment, public buildings or public transport? How is provision protected for disabled people?

 

 

Prejudice and discrimination

Although we do not like to admit it, we all have prejudices. However in  fair society  we must try to  ensure that our prejudices do not become discrimination.

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My sons  – both black and disabled!

Prejudice is an unjustified or inaccurate attitude towards an individual based solely on the individual’s membership of a  group. Many people will have prejudices against people  with disability, people of a different colour or those who are different from them in some way. They may think that having children with disabilities in their school will affect the progress of other children; they may think that all people  with disabilities are stupid, difficult or incapable of following the regular curriculum, unable to work, have relationships or be full members of society. Although it would be better if we  were not prejudiced, must of us are, one way or another, we  to ensure that prejudices do not become discrimination. We have to be sure that we do not discriminate, whatever our personal prejudices may be. Discrimination occurs when an individual or group behave in a negative way towards an individual or group of people, such as people with disabilities. A prejudiced person may not act on their attitude. So someone can be prejudiced towards a certain group but not discriminate against them. Discrimination involves behaviour and that is what we  can control – we  cannot control attitudes. But you may think otherwise! However, prejudiced attitudes are often changed when people have contact with the group they were prejudiced against. They realise that their attitudes were inaccurate. However, close contact sometimes hardens prejudices. Why not challenge yourself to think about prejudice and discrimination. What should the education system be doing to challenge this discrimination? Think about what you could do. What could you do yourself to challenge this discrimination? Whose discriminatory behaviour should you challenge? Think about yourself.  What are your prejudices? Is any of your own behaviour discriminatory? Remember that disabled people can be equally prejudiced, as can black people and other groups who are themselves the victims  of prejudice and discrimination.

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Living with autism – a sister’s story

It’s often difficult for people with a disability to lead an ordinary life but  it’s often difficult for family members too.  Family members may feel that they cannot express their true feelings. Emma, whose story is set out here, bravely sets down her feelings about her brother’s autism. Her story is included here to show just how difficult it can be to live with a severely autistic sibling – and to show that it is OK to express negative feelings. We don’t have to be saints!

I have never accepted my brother’s autism and have found it very difficult to deal with. His name is Daniel, and he has severe autism. I am 18 years old, and he is 16, with the mind of an infant. I shall never hear my brother say my name. He cannot speak, is still in nappies, and has been living in a special care home for four years due to his unmanageable behaviour. Whilst I was growing up, I found life very difficult. I buried my head in class work and focused on getting the best out of life. I am going to university soon and I am immensely proud of what I managed to achieve despite everything that was going on around me

. After my brother was diagnosed with autism at the age of two, my life turned upside down. For the next 10 years, social workers and helpers would constantly be in-and-out of the house, discussing my brother’s needs. Conversations between friends and family would often be related to Daniel, and disability.

I missed out on many normal things in my childhood. My parents tried to make time, but they were often too stressed and preoccupied with managing my brother to listen to my worries. I would often shut myself in my room and cry, while my brother watched ‘Jungle Book’ for the 1000th time, making a big noise downstairs. He would wake up in the middle of the night and kick my bedroom wall, making sleeping a difficult task in my house. Doors, windows and cupboards had to be locked and I couldn’t leave out any toys, school or art work because they would get eaten or ruined.

On a few occasions, my brother managed to escape from the house and ended up on a nearby road. I’ve always thought that he’s like a cat with nine lives. Once, I forgot to shut the front door of the house when I was watering my plant in the front garden and he ended up on a platform of the nearby train station. I hate to imagine the guilt I would have lived with from the age of 10, had anything happened to him

. I wish I could accept his autism, and perhaps I shall in time. I suppose I just need to move on from imagining the ‘what if?’ life I could have had with a normal sibling, a close friend you grow older and shared special occasions with. I have so many memories of my brother running around the house naked before his bath, or running into my room screaming or trying to hit or bite my parents. It felt like he always had an excuse for bad behaviour. On other occasions, he was funny and would just keep himself happy

. I often fear the future. I fear what would happen if my parents died and I’d be his only family left. I fear that my own children which I so long to have in the future, will be severely autistic too. I am sad that he will miss out on life’s beauty, will never have children of his own, and will never be able to live without care.

I wish he could talk to me, and I wish I could be strong enough to visit him once in a while. But I find it so hard to see my teenage brother getting older in appearance but remain the same in mental age. Mum and I have often said how we wish he could stop growing and remain a little child forever. I hope one day I stop feeling jealous of my friends and family with normal siblings. I hope one day my relationship with other members of my family will not be so strained. Although I still get depressed about having an autistic brother, I have definitely learnt to appreciate life. I work hard towards a life I am grateful to have. I am compassionate towards those in need, and don’t worry about trivial things. I am so close to my mum, and I love spending time with her, as well as my cousins when I can see them.

I don’t hate my brother – I hate autism, and what it’s done to my family.

Click here to go to the website of The National  Autistic Society for information about autism