“Parents gave up autistic son.” The title of a recent article from The Age.
Some excerpts: “But within three months of entering the care and protection of the state, the parents were told that their boy had been sexually assaulted by a teenager who had been temporarily placed in the same house.”
And: “She recalls the reasons why they gave him up. The nights in which he kept them awake, ”bouncing off the walls”, smearing the walls with his faeces, rocking backwards and forwards, moaning and wailing.”
Finally: ”They [the state] had guardianship of him and they failed him,’ Anna [name changed of the mother] says now.”
Do you want to know what my immediate reaction to the mother’s statement was? You were his parents. You failed him.
But, then, I realized that this story is not about blame. I’m not going to say parents frequently or often give up their children. But, we all know, it has happened before. Unfortunately, we also know that children are sexually assaulted, in their own homes, in placement homes, in foster homes. We feel — I feel — especially aghast because this child had autism. Yet, we all know that raising a child with autism is difficult, to say the least. Unique challenges. Unfathomable costs.
Is there something to learn from this situation? They struggled in ways that many families have and will with children on the spectrum. This family clearly felt alone, isolated. They appeared to lack connections to other families with children on the spectrum. They needed help for themselves, their NT children, and their boy. Who’s job is it to connect a family like this to the rest of the autism community?
I, for one, would like to help in one small way. Let’s start a list of online resources that allow parents to directly reach out to help. Not the countless pages of diagnostic criteria, or the possible cures that seem far away. No, let’s make a list of sites that can, in one click, reach out one hand and grasp another.
If we don’t have that type of resource, we better get our act in order. Join me in sharing your favorite sites.