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Canadian Government Takes Girl with Autism Away from Loving Father

Child catcher By Kent Heckenlively, Esq.

It's a nightmare many autism parents fear.  Not only do you live with the daily challenge of a child with autism, but you wonder what might happen if the government wanted to take your child away.  Would they care for your child as you would?

By all accounts, Derek Hoare is a wonderful father to his two children with autism and a normally developing son.  He is a single father on government assistance in British Columbia.  His ex-wife has written "He has been a loving and dedicated father.  He has had . . . an enormous amount of challenges as a parent, the likes of which most people would not believe."  An article on this case can be found HERE.

The most recent challenge he's had to face started when he momentarily took his eyes of his nine-year-old daughter, Ayn.  Even though his house is surrounded by a six-foot fence, she disappeared.  He ran up and down the street looking for her.  After ten minutes he called the police.  Three hours later she was found safe and sound playing in a neighbor's pool.  Although Derek locks the doors and windows in his house, he believes his daughter escaped by climbing her treehouse and jumping over the fence.

When Ayn was brought back to her father she ran into his arms.

Four days later, though, officials from the Ministry of Children and Family Development came with orders to take Ayn away.  The officials told Derek they were taking this action to "lighten his load."  Due to her need for round-the-clock attention she will be placed in a psychiatric facility.  Derek worries that the staff will hold her down and sedate her in order to make her more compliant.

Derek now has to wait for a July 12 hearing to determine his level of access to his daughter.  He worries about even going to visit her, knowing she'll cry and beg to be taken home.

If you have any suggestions or comments for how the Ministry of Children and Family Development can "lighten the load" of this parent, by much less drastic measures, such as a tracking device for his daughter, or respite care, please feel free to contact them at (604) 870-5880 and share your thoughts.

Kent Heckenlivey is a Contributing Editor to Age of Autism



This sort of thing happens more often than people realize, not just in Canada but also in the US. Based on their actions it is clear to me that those at the Ministry are COMPLETELY uneducated and uniformed about autism and the behaviors that go along with it. This is an outrage. This little girl was kidnapped and drugged for being autistic. This is a very dangerous precedent. Can we then expect that as more time goes by our civilized society will approve of the institutionalization of autistic children? With 1 in 110 children diagnosed with autism (in varying degrees) how will the government house and care for all this children? Autistic children are not throw-aways.

Kendra Pettengill

I have been involved in this case for some time now and there is a lot more information we as a community need to know.
1) In BC they handed over the case files of disabled children to the same agency that is "suppose to protect" endangered children. With the action of removing Ayn from her father's care, others in BC are terrified that this is a huge mistake as they obviously have zero understanding of Autism and what constitutes common behaviors involved.
2) Several months before this incident, they "suggested" that Derek put Ayn on psychotropics. He declined. This may have more to do with that than the wandering incident, which seems to be an excuse for them to exert their control. This is also a sign that there is cross-over between those that are suppose to be assisting families and those that can step in and remove children. A dangerous precedent. And like the Godboldo case the government is stepping in to force drug a child.

3) Since removing Ayn they have put her on three psychotropic drugs , all contraindicated for use with the other two and none approved for Autism. She is receiving 75mg of Chlorpromazine (also known as Thorazine or Largactil) up to twice daily In addition, she is being administered Risperdal (Risperidone). Seroquel was added to her list of meds. And a "sleeping aid."

4) They are now using behaviors witnessed since her removal to justify keeping her, demonstrating a total lack of understanding of what Autism is and the understanding of what ripping her from her known and comfortable home environment would cause in behaviors. Not to mention dragging her into a hospital setting and injecting her with psychotropic drugs.

There is a facebook page if you want to help out. They are organizing letter writing campaigns, fund raising for the legal fund. There has to be someone though with connections high up. In BC if you fight the custody they will delay actions for 6 months to a year. Already he has been told there will not be a hearing until September and that is just to set a hearing date which will likely be another 90 days or more out. His public lawyer has told him it will be a minimum of one year before he has a chance of getting her back.
This father is an organized, savy, well researched father who is having amazing progress with both of his autistic children. And he needs our help because this could be our child.


If the child was found, THREE hours later, playing in a pool, unsupervised, then something needed to be done. Not institutionalization, or even removing her from her home, but that poor papa does have his hands too full. She could have easily drowned.

Wendy Bailey

Taking her away from her home is just wrong! The community should be capable of helping this family without splitting them up and scaring this little girl by taking her away from her familiar and loving environment. Show a little compassion and imagination for once! Take this little girl home where she belongs. Community.. help keep her there!! Taking her away is a shameful thing!

Florence Iwegbue

This story saddens me b/c it could have been my family. As our children grow they get better & better at escaping. If this family cannot afford a Tracking device, I have given families with loved ones who wander the opportunity to create an Emergency Personal Health Profile at www.iBioMed.me but first read about it at ( Http://bit.ly/jeYZOZ ) If you have a child like I do you can customize your child "card" on a bracelet-- up to you really. This tool will hold info like your child's pic, diagnosis, health details, emergency contacts etc I hate to say it but it's kind of like a dog tag only it's free. We had to figure out a cost free way to solve this problem that affects vulnerable children & adults too! See pics: http://bit.ly/lScBqX
I wish this family the very best of luck.







Bob Moffitt

As Ronald Reagan once famously said:

"The most frightening ten words in any language are .. "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you".

Tamara Goddard

What would happen, I wonder if we went and forcefully removed the girl from the Ministry. What are the rights of the family? It seems there are currently none. But since they have no good argument as to why they have taken her, the people should have the right to take her back. What would the ramifications of this be?

Tamara Goddard

I, and I'm assuming many concerned people, am looking for some way to help this cause. I will be calling the Ministry myself and hope many others do. I am appalled at this horrifying incident and disgusted with the actions of the Ministry of Family and Children. I'm here to help and hope there will be a support rally outside the hearing on July 12. I hope we can apply enough pressure to see this father and daughter reunited on this day. Not only does this little girl need to be returned, but compensation needs to be paid for further support for the family. I'm sure this has been traumatic for the little one. Further, a full investigation needs to be done on the Ministries actions. I've heard no statement from them. I can't believe we live in a world where the government makes the ultimate decision on what's best for our children. I understand protective measure against children who are experiencing real abuse, but this is not the case. It can take years sometimes to have a child removed from truly hazardous environments, how can something like this happen? Where was the investigation, where was the support for this single father who, I'm sure, would have welcomed additional services.


Any update? Is she home yet?


Kidnapping a child from someone is a crime!!!! How dare they, he dinothing wrong!!!!! This could have happened to anyone! OUTRAGIOUS!!!!!!!


I like the Duggars and all but I think that the government needs to step in and LIGHTEN THEIR LOAD.
Double standard bullshit!!!!!

Sree Sreedhar

I have imagined this scenario often, but I want to go beyond the nightmare stage to figuring out a concrete action plan I can implement if ever confronted with this situation (similar to what Kent is asking in his post).

I live in the US, so I imagine the rules are different (and presumably vary by state too). Some questions that occur to me:
1. Does the local Child Protective Services (or equivalent) agency have an unfettered right to take away a child from their family, or is there a higher authority that has to first give its approval?
2. Can the parent appeal only *after* the fact (ie after the child is removed), or can the removal be stayed pending disposal of the appeal?
3. If the parent cannot block the removal of the child, the agency then needs to be held accountable for the child's well-being, for instance, when he has severe food/environmental allergies or takes specific medication. Does the parent have a right to ask for that assurance in writing before handing over the child?
4. In the last resort, if the parent chooses to obstruct the action - say by locking himself in the house with the child, etc, simply to assure that they stay together, what are the likely outcomes at that point?

Any information/thoughts along those lines would be appreciated!

Maureen Volpe

My seven year old son is also a runner and has had a tracking device since he managed to escape at 3 years old. It is called Project Lifesaver, available in NJ, and should be worldwide! The fear of losing him is the worst part of his diagnosis, but I must say, as he matures, he is not bolting like he used to and will walk with me nicely, with a verbal reminder once in awhile. I never thought this day would come, so there is hope!


My youngest son with Autism is a runner, also. Everyday I am worried sick about him. He has run out of his special-needs preschool classroom many times this past year(and that is with 3 teachers present and only 9 children in the class) One day I took my eyes off him and had his brother watch him for a minute and I ended up finding him in the middle of a very busy street just standing there very still. I felt like my heart stoppped that day and I couldn't breathe-so many "what if's?" ran through my mind. I felt like a failure. Now I worry about him running away when he starts Kindergarten in September. I feel for that dad. I pray for that family. I know no matter how much you try to protect them, our "flight-risk kids are going to do what their minds are set to do.


One more thought..

THIS IS EXACTLY why there needs to be. HUGE distinction between those with "social quirks" and our kids who have more severe and LIFE threatening issues! I cringe every time I hear anyone/media/online/etc talk about how autism is just the "new" label..blah blah...we all know how that goes around...
I am NO ONE to judge anyone else's diagnosis or Childs diagnosis, but surely the Autism my 2 boys have is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT and WAY more serious than those with "social quirks"....
And I believe it's why so many in the ND world don't, and if they are high functioning themselves, without so many physical health issues like our kids, they simply CAN'T empathize or even understand the HUGE differences between "their Autism" and "our Autism"...

And honestly believ that until the ND world can SEE that difference and then NOT PASS judgement on others with completely different experiences day to day, then and only then will those OUTSIDE of the Autism Community begin to understand and then is when "real awareness" will start to happen...

Until then, sadly I feel as though there are forces behind some of the ND crowd who are fueling the fires between this war of the Autism Worlds...so that we DO NOT COME TOGETHER and PROPERLY ADVOCATE AND EDUCATE Others?..

These forces WANT us to debate, bicker, disagree, they WANT turmoil and battle media stories...it helps their agendas...it helps keep the public in the dark and often confused about what is what..

Who are those outside "forces" behind some in the ND?

Any guesses?

Ok, to the point which belongs with this tragic story...that REAL AWARENESS AND REAL education, EVEN within the so called "professionals" like Social workers/therapists/educators/docs/etc....there will NEVER be able to be proper services, treatments, therapies, resources available to anyone UNLESS/UNTIL we can come together within out "Autism Community" and AGREE that each person on the Spectrum can have any number of issues ranging from social, behavioral, physical, mental, cognitive, health, and any combo of any issues too and everything in-between....

Ok, I am off to pray for this family and for all of us who battle these worries day to day...

PROUD Mom to Ethan, Alex, and Megan


How terrible! Besides the DAILY wandering fear we all have as parents, we have this awful fear too, SHAME ON THOSE who did this to this family! SHAME on them! I want to know e Stats from that Childrens Welfare Dept on how many REAL ABUSE calls they get and how many of those calls gets the child immediately removed? Yet a Childs disability, the wandering of course is part of the disability, this Childs disability is cause forn immediate "lockup"?!?!?

Seriously, I hear all of the time how many cases of neglect/abuse happen while "on watch by child services" where even they end up finding the child dead, where they let the child stay in the home..yet a loving, dedicated single father with NO ISSUES of abuse or neglect gets the child taken without question?

If the Childs disability includes wandering, and his LOVING family, dedicated Dad missed her for a mill-a-second, how much care and concern and actual WATCHING this child will tale place for someone who is NOT Their loved one? Oh, that's right, it's probably something she will be medicated and locked up like a criminal for..oh I am so angry!

Is there ANYTHING we cam do from here in the US?
I think we should start some sort of legal defense fund/program, maybe even with some voluteer lawyers/experts for these exact cases....
I just hope this ends quickly and with no further HARM to this poor child and her family!!!

Proud Mom to Ethan, Alex, and Megan


This is just awful. My oldest son is a runner and I had to call the police several times to recover him. I was so fortunate in that they did find him and he was safe. I feel so bad for the families that lost their child when this happened. It is so important they come up with tracking devices and more funding for at home provider services. In Ohio, there are still thousands of children (and adults) on waiting lists for waivers. I can't believe their solution is to take her away from her loving father.

AutismDad in PA

BTW.... how did that Arizona 5 situation work out? Did the parents get the kids back? What's going on... anyone know?

AutismDad in PA

How many times has gov't committed a tyranny prefacing it with the words..."We only want to help."

David Roberts

This is absolutely dreadful. However, as a UK subject I do not find such action by social services as being unusual. I would therefore Not be surprised if this draconian behaviour was instigated by social service personnel who are Not members of the indigenous Vancouver or British Columbia population.

This heartless and wicked action as been taken by those not sympathetic to the feelings and needs of a family belonging to the indigenous community. Indeed this 'Crime' will have been carried by those of a non caring nature originating from a society where 'Life' is cheap.

That this man is a most caring father matters little, only the enhancement of a career will have been considered in this case......The personnel career of the instigator.

Those closer to hand need to investigate as to who made this decision and from whence they came.


How about a home-visitor or support worker who could do some child care and give a break for the father? Could they sit down together with the family and discuss as "team" what kind help the father and his daughter needs without breaking the family and putting the child into an institution.This is a
a no win situation,they need to find a better solution.
Understanding what autism is,how these kids act and how they need to be supported (with the family)is where BC.
Social workers need to start.It is impossible to have our eyes on them 24 hrs.a day.Most professionals have not have
a clue what parents go through.BC.Social workers you need to do a better job than this!!!!!


It appears to be a trend in developed countries. You can lose your children faster than your driver's license.


Please sign the petition to bring Ayn home and please pass it far and wide. We need the rights of parents of kids with autism changed.


to give support and info anyway you can please join Dereks facebook page


Gatagorra, can you see if you can get the phone number of the Ben-Alkana family and their attorney--or at least his/her name-- to Derek Hoare? I think that might be the most effective possible support for him at this time.

Heidi N

This is extremely appalling!!! If children were taken to "lighten the load," most us would not have our children. Golly Geez, since when is that a criteria! One would think something fishy is going on!

Jeannette Bishop (JenB)

They've not only significantly increased the load this man bears, but also increased the load of parents of children with such disabilities (often institutionally induced) everywhere. The pain caused by just knowing such bureaucratic violations of the family unit can occur so easily is not describable. What is this family going through?

Will some kind of petition help, or could we get this story in the national/local media?


I just tried to call the number that Kent wrote in his post, free via Skype. The receptionist put me through to a person who was "away on vaction until July something or other" and to leave a message. Of course, the recorded voice said the "mailbox is not able to accept messages right now."
This is such a scary and sad situation. God bless that poor dad and hope that the Canadian govt returns his daughter to him soon.


How can we help?


In the US, an Alaskan psychiatric rights group factored that it would cost far less to provide paraprofessional wraparound care for a child 24/7 than it would to place them in an institution. But there's no drug company kickback from wraparound care. Canada is nearly as pharma-captured as the US. This is a crime.

I wonder if we dug around in the story if we'd find that the father had recently pressured the school or district for services or had resisted pressure to drug? In any case, this is what happened to Gomey Ben-Elkana, a teen with Aspergers living with his family outside Quebec. His family had pressured for supports which the state is supposed to supply. The next thing the family knew, it was reported that Gomey was being "nutritionally neglected" by his mother because his GI disorder (which she was trying to get resources to treat) made him periodically lose weight. The authorities carted him off to a psych facility until the family hired a civil rights attorney, who managed to get Gomey released with a single phone call.

BC= Bring Cash/ Benign Communism

Just to be clear, this matter is under the provincial jurisdiction of British Columbia and is not a federal matter in that sense of "Canadian".

I understand social workers have a hard job, but the stupidity surrounding this decision is colossal. What does the government spend to institutionalize a child? What is paid out to foster families including the respite care they get? I'd bet just a portion of those costs would have helped this family out and kept the child in the family home.

Just one more reason why, as a family with a child with autism, we are so happy to not be living in BC anymore.


These damm people have no idea...........awareness awarenes
they need to be educated about autism...........it inferioates me,,,,,,,,,we have all had this happen before,,,,,do they not know what autism is????????????

Mary W Maxwell

To kidnap a person is a crime. To unlawfully imprison a person is a crime. To assault a person, such as by drugging him, is a crime. This 9 yr old girl has been subjected to all these crimes. Plus her father has been assaulted; the crime of assault does not require physical contact – he has been harmed internally by what they did to him. Losing his child would traumatize him. (I am nearly getting traumatized just reading this case!) So who are the criminals? They are whoever did those things. It does not matter that they did them on the name of the state. Nuremberg principle: “just following orders” is not an excuse. But wasn’t it lawful to take the child? Of course not – a crime cannot be lawful. Main exception: we can violently handcuff and lock up a citizen who is reasonably suspected of being a felon; but he deserves it, he brought it upon himself. Can officials walk off with someone’s child to lighten that person’s load? Certainly not, that would be absurd, and if they thought there was a case for it they would negotiate first, not run in and harm the child irreparably. Are there some good intentions here about ‘child protection’? No. The intention should be read from the results. Surely the plan is to make life difficult for families. This wants fixing by way of criminal charges being brought.


ANYWAY the Ministry, when I was living in BC, tried to "lighten my load" too. I refused. I fought tooth and nail, and managed just to keep it at respite care. (My DD has Aspergers Syndrome) They are seriously overzealous in BC...seriously...it's kinda dumb. They spend all sorts of time on cases that DONT need attention, when kids on reserves, and in down town Vancouver are getting murdered by their parents routinely.


Child protection is a provincial matter not a federal matter. Please correct your headline. It is not the "Canadian" government, but the British Columbian Provincial Department of Family Services that took the kids. (Still wrong) but just gonna let you know that child protection isn't a federal matter, just like in the USA.


Sorry if that childish, but i din get it, Dnt they allow autistic child to remain with parents in Canada?

John Stone

Probably, one of the reasons why this sort of thing happens is because the bureaucrats are worried about being blamed if anything further did go wrong. Of course, what they ought to have done is make sure the poor man was properly supported, rather than subjecting a family to a trauma which may afflict them for the rest of their lives, even if they are re-united. Ugh!

Elizabeth Jackson

Taking the father's daughter away is traumatic for the entire family.This sounds like a cruel "quick fix" on the part of the government (local civil services).It is inhumane.
To help "lighten" the father's "load," why not provide him with workers to help him take care of his daughter at home?
Taking her away from her home and heavily medicating her is certainly not the answer. This is 2011, not the 1950s. Surely, we've evolved.

Angus Files

Nightmare Kent for this child and her father and he needs to get her away from those murders son as possible.

Were in the UK and as I have wrote before my son is an escaper and a vanisher (he wont stop at the pool Pass Go) and I could mention a whole load more abnormal tendencies. Such as this morning 5.30am trying to get outside fully naked to get on his trampolene..another day just over a year ago setting fire to the house after drawing a picture of a birthday cake and trying to light the candles on the drawing with our gas cooker ignitor. .etc and so it goes on they are Autistic FFS.

Great how the local Civil Services diligently remove the child for her own safety. Yet,in the same breath can`t say , to help you get your child back we will modify your house for you ? or as you describe a tracker (they give them to criminals in the UK but the kids aren’t so worthy) a higher fence? more play equipment to keep the child in she obviously stopped at the pool would a pool not help keep the child amused ??or slow her down if she was escaping ,poor soul.

Bloody pathetic the whole civil services are world wide ,but then no surprise when Pharma control the governments.

John Stone

What a catastrophe: how much harm these heavy handed bureaucrats can inflict.

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