Note: Many AofA families have children whose autism includes severe aggression toward him/herself and others. For every pie in the sky feel good story, there are families openly swearing about the reality of autism under their roof. Or, in many instances, at their child's residential school, a placement made necessary by the violence. Each time The Good Doctor comes on TV, or Sheldon makes a funny comment, parents want to throw a dish at the screen to shatter the TV and the illusion that autism is a Swiss army knife of skills and gifts. Do our kids have skills and some sort of gifts? Honestly, only some.
Below is a common story. Of love, exasperation, desperation and a plea for help. Families snap. Mothers murder their kids. Fathers commit murder suicide. It's a horrible outcome for some who reach the end of their rope. We never condone killing our children with autism. At the same time, we can say that we understand the raw, visceral despair and fear that strikes - when our children strike us with ferocity. Autism and violence is an ugly secret. These children will not be able to live in group homes. They will not be able to hold even a volunteer or sheltered workshop job. Gone are the days of a day program populated by placid, cognitively disabled but socially able adults. Autism will devour current programs whole - and spit out the bones. Get real, America. GET REAL.
HALIFAX -- A heart-rending case involving a Halifax-area boy has triggered new calls for a national strategy to help families with children who can become violently aggressive because of severe autism.
The case of nine-year-old Callum Sutherland illustrates what happens when families can't get crisis assistance, according to Autism Canada and the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Alliance.
Carly Sutherland took the rare step last week of holding a news conference to plea for help with her sometimes violent son, who is due to be fully released from a confined hospital unit on Thursday.
Sutherland told reporters her son, and her family, are frightened by how they will cope.
Cynthia Carroll, the chairwoman of the alliance, said families across Canada are reporting more severe cases of aggressive behaviour, and a lack of help.
"As we continue to work in silos across the provinces and territories, the risk increases and everybody holds their breath that for each case that hits the media that it's not a fatal case," Carroll said.
Carroll said the Sutherland case is one among many showing the need for a national strategy, and she asks why the federal Liberal government hasn't adequately responded to the Senate's call last spring for a federal plan. The upper chamber also issued a report titled "Pay Now or Pay Later: Autism Families in Crisis," calling for more assistance a decade ago.
Carroll said the goal is to hold a first ministers' conference, agree on the key needs, and get funding.
Both national groups say some health regions within provinces have behavioural therapies that are available to older children, but there are generally long waiting lists and shortages of trained therapists across the country.
"Parents aren't getting the supports they need, and it escalates and gets into crisis situations like the Sutherlands," said Laurie Mawlam, executive director of Autism Canada.
Sutherland said she has been inundated with emails and phone calls from people from across the country who are in the identical situation as she and her husband John Sutherland.
"What this has shown me above all else is we are not alone and this is not an isolated incident. This is something that needs to be addressed at a much broader level."
Sutherland said her son slept at home Sunday night as part of the transition process that will see him fully released from the hospital on Thursday. The family has also taken steps to shatter-proof glass in the home given Callum's violent tendencies.... Read more here.