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