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I am the Lorax!

Lorax3By Kim Stagliano

The Hartley family of Texas used hidden cameras in a group home to prove that the paid staff was assaulting their son. They caught the abuse on tape. He's 22! He is likely to have another 60 - 65 years assuming an underpaid, undertrained piece of sh*t "caregiver" doesn't kill him or allow him to wander to his death.  "Taylor's autism and his size made it difficult for him to remain with his parents." Oh my God - I see teen boys at speech every week who are 5' 9" - 5' 11' inches tall and weigh 250 pounds. One boy must weigh well into the 300s. They are teenagers!  That's likely a "side effect" of their medications. How long before they end up in a group home because aging parents can not care for them any longer?  They are just too BIG.  The adult wave is coming and the injuries, abuse and even death that will follow will grow until the mainstream world simple says, "Ah yeah, another one of those people died in a group home."

I feel like The Lorax. Anne Dachel is definitely The Lorax. Most of our readership is too. "I am an Suess_lorax_speaks_for_the_trees Autism Mom! I speak for our children!  My husband and I have already sat with the police, the District Attorney talking about assault against our child with autism, when she was 10! Wake up America - we need treatment (put the needle on the broken record again) and yes some form of recovery for our kids. Or I fear they will end up like the truffula trees. THWACK!  Unless...

An Allen couple suspected a caretaker was abusing their autistic son. But they had trouble convincing operators of the group home where he was living, as well as state authorities. So they took matters into their own hands, which led to a shocking discovery and criminal charges.

Karen and Michael Hartley secretly placed a hidden camera inside their son Taylor’s room at residential nursing home and documented an alleged beating of the 22-year-old.

“You promise this child when they’re born that you’re going to love them forever and you’re going to protect them,” Karen Hartley said of her love for her son.

Taylor’s autism and physical size, as he grew older, made it difficult for him to stay with his parents.

So Karen and Michael moved Taylor into several homes in east Allen, then operated by Frank Nerkowski.

Within days of living at a home, located in the 800 block of Meadowcreek, the family received a phone call.

“I get a call from our dentist and he says, ‘Karen you’re not going to believe this but Taylor has a compound fracture of his jaw’,” recalled Karen.

Caretaker Michael Fuller and another worker blamed the injury on a fall.

“At first we tried to give them the benefit of the doubt,” Michael said of the situation.

For months the family documented bruises on Taylor’s ears and legs, as well as burns on his arm.

Read the full article and comment your concerns at CBS Dallas.

House of Cards 200 pixelsKim Stagliano is Managing Editor of Age of Autism. Her new novel,  House of Cards; A All I Can Handle 50 pixel Kat Cavicchio romantic suspense is available from Amazon in all e-formats now. Her memoir, All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa is available in hardcover, paperback and e-book.





Ms. Hartley, the mom of autistic man being abused on tape, illuminates a pervasive problem in getting good help for severely autistic adults both in home and in group homes. She gives us a hint how families fight and fight and fight for better care and the state agencies charged with duty to help, run, run and run away from reality of helping autistic adults, though they get billions in federal funds to help.
Reform is badly needed now. State agencies must learn to recruit and train quality nurses and caregivers who can handle this type of autistic population or we will continue to see horrific abuse of autistic adults. State funding systems re-imburse caregiver and nursing agencies at the Medi-cal rate, which is lower than other rates, so all the state vendors that are supplying caregivers and nurses to group homes and home health cases, are recruiting from a pool of caregivers that are sometimes the bottom of the barrel caregivers. Video surveillance should be mandatory in all state licensed facilities where there are non verbal disabled people who can’t defend themselves.


Late comment, but The Lorax is by far my son's favorite book. He recently turned 18 and still "reads" it regularly (I'm sure I have purchased it dozens of times over the years). It is one of the first books I read aloud to him before he regressed and I practically know it by heart: Unless someone like you, cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.


What a heart breaking story.I hope Taylor's parents are able
to find a safe place for him.I wish him strength and recovery. The caregiver Michael Fuller needs to get a jail term.He needs to have a record of this abuse,so that he is never ever to work with disabled or elderly.Talk about disability...this care giver has no heart or patience.Top
of that they blame Taylor, "behavioural problems contributed
to what happened".Like-minded parents need to come together
with their money to build supported and safe living centres,
where 24 available with carefully selected qualified care givers to provide care.God,help our children.


Adults with Autism is not a wave that is coming, but a Tsunami!!


I believe that how people treat the 'least of these' is a huge testament of how heart poor the human race is becoming. Kindness and compassion are almost foreign languages. ((hugs)) to this family.


Hardly anyone has ever listened to the Lorax. Those who have been speaking up for the environment, for the trees, the birds, the mammals, the insects, the fish and all the rest of living things for the past 50 years are vilified by many these days, including several presidential candidates and even by some on this very forum who one would think ought to clearly understand the dangers of pollution and environmental destruction.

Speaking up for the things that are getting trampled to death and into extinction by the status quo and/or the goal to increase profit is considered "anti-progress." Those who are fighting to try to keep Earth habitable continue to be ridiculed and their efforts thwarted at every turn by the rich and powerful corporations who don't want to change their destructive ways, underhandedly funded "skeptic" bloggers and researchers, and by individuals who have been misled by the media lies paid for by the offending corporations.

Sorry to say so, but I don't think things are going to change for the better anytime soon--for the trees or the children--unless and until we have several million Loraxs speaking up for both. The question is whether by then it will simply be too late.

They paved paradise and put up a parking lot--and they are still doing it.
When will we ever learn?


Do any of you ever watch the show "Hoarders".

Some of those hoarders - I am pretty sure are not really hoarding as much as no one was around to tell them that - okay enough of this crap - it has to be cleaned and will be cleaned or something will happen at the end of the day.

L Land

I got told just yesterday that I need to work with a counselor on "my trust issues" so that I then can send my son to be cared for by all those wonderful caregivers out there.

Oddly, I don't think it is my trust issues that are the problem


Although I know there are wonderful caretakers of the disabled in homes (my best friend is one of those fabulous women), I fear they are rare. We, as parents, can not be naive to the sweet, pleasant face a caretaker will put on for the parents. We must remember that we are the customers that keep them employed and they know this. They are PAID to be nice to us. Know that even in homes that have survelance cameras, they are not allowed (for privacy law reasons) to have cameras in the bathroom or bedroom. An abuser can just take them from an area with a camera to one without a camera. Also, know that these cameras are not manned. There is so much footage that they are only examined if a problem is suspected. You can't assume "Oh, I'm sure it's fine, there are cameras so they would tell us if there was a problem." No, they may never even see the abuse and the film filed away. WE MUST NOT BE NAIVE. We must examine other options such as instead of giving the homes the SSI or any other respite monies, hiring a family member or close friend to come and give us some regular respite with that money. THERE HAS TO BE OTHER OPTIONS THAN BLIND TRUST OF COMPLETE STRANGERS!!! Remember how taxing it is for us, how stressful and we LOVE them. How much more frustrating are they to stangers who are not related, who do not have the investment in them we do, who probably do not love them. Our kids are a JOB to most caretakers and a stressful one at that. I'm not juding parents who put kids in homes...but I AM calling us not to be naive!

Ruby Reed

They've got the epidemic wrong. The epidemic is of absusive people. We are so accustomed to that epidemic that we fail to see it. We are we not identifying children likely to grow to be abusive adults early and providing early intervention? My child is not sick. Bullies are sick. Abusive people are sick.

Anne McElroy Dachel

Kim was right on the money here. I too look at the man-sized teens I know with autism and I'm afraid for their future. My biggest worry is that like our passive acceptance of the autism epidemic--with no demand for answers--we may just get used to stories of abuse in schools and group homes. We may be there now.

Anne Dachel, Media

millicent gauntlett

The importance of using a hidden camera cannot be overemphasized. This abuse could ultimately led to this young man's death.

jacey smith capurso

I can't even bring myself to read the article in full.... Recently I've become honest to god terrified of what is happening to our kids, families and country. And don't get me wrong. I've been around this community for almost exactly 8 years. And I've seen change and progress. But not nearly enough or quickly enough. But what is throwing me into such fear is the carnage left for a mass of people... That continues to grow each day at lightning speeds. We as families are struggling horribly and no one is getting it!! Why not? Every turn is a road block that we all must maneuver over, around, or blaze through. Our kids are being treated with such a lack of respect on all fronts. We all know there is no end in sight. There is nothing on the horizon that is remotely going to help slow down or turn the rate of autism diagnoses. WTF is going on ?
Back 8 years ago i douted my first mentor Sharron D. When she told me point blank: This isn't going to stop, you know. In about 10 years this will be a huge epidemic. (well she was wrong. It only took 8 years!) People have no idea what's going to happen to this country.
I now completely and utterly believe her. Autism will continue to leave carnage in its wake but I'll continue to be A Lorax along with Kim and the masses of other families screaming the warnings. We will continue to speak for our childre (our "trees"). But why didn't anyone listen to the ORIGINAL Lorax? Now there are thousand and thousands of Lorax! and still no one is listening. I guess that is the point of the story ..... Sigh.

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