15 September 2011

Good Story?

An autistic child named Joshua presents difficult behaviours, lack of understanding about danger and frequently runs off. Imagine you're his dad. You have no family and friends and you and your wife need to move out of your home. Need. Foreclosure is hell, and it's gonna BE hell for poor Joshua.

But on to the immediate worry. Furniture doesn't lift itself and guess what? You don't have $50,000 in the bank to hire a mover, sorry. SO, you tether your son in the back yard to keep him safe while you lift the heavy stuff. The last thing you want is that kid running away or tripping you when you are shuffling downstairs and straining your back in the first place. Things are hard enough for you right now.

Ok. Maybe not the best way to handle it. Better than letting him go off into the street, but maybe not the best way to handle it. I wasn't there, so I couldn't tell you. Maybe these folks should have some specially-trained autism specialist or case manager come to their home to HELP them rig it so it's more safe for their son and ohhh, I dunno, maybe get some respite hours so their situation is difficult but not IMPOSSIBLE. Hey, with a two-year-old? Move the furniture out of his room first, leave a few toys in there and pop a safety gate on. You are in and out all the time and kiddo will be ok. What do you do when your child is as big as a small adult, though? Really... besides offering impossible and maddening suggestions like "find someone to help" or (my favourite) "don't have disabled kids," what would you suggest?

The state just took the kid after they found out. Aaand, of course as always happens with these foster kids, they're forced to go to public school. The child is tethered in public school when they change classrooms. For his safety. It isn't abusive when THEY do it, you know, like those awful parents. I mean, the school is GOOD! Here, they let him wander about on the playground freely and -

Hey, wait. Where did he go?

So little Joshua escapes from school and wanders off. They find him off in the wilderness far away... much later. Looks like they drew the poor kid in with... the sound of his father's voice.

Telling you, this story made me want to cry.

I don't know all the particulars of the case, but I sure feel for the parents and for Joshua. All you moms of severely disabled children KNOW THE FEELING. You are just one phone call, one bowel movement or one sickness away from disaster. These children don't understand and they NEED us in a way that other kids never, never do. One moment of inattention and they are outtie. NO FAIR LEAVING ALLCAPS COMMENTS ABOUT 'YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN LOOKING.' You have no idea how much work it is, how it never ends unless something bad happens. Zee-ro.

I love my Woodjie. A lot. And while I don't tether him, I *do* keep him in a gate system like a baby. Go ahead and say I'm infantilizing him, but it keeps order in my house and defines his area for him. I'm going to take a guess and say the tether did the same for this family. Temporarily. So they could get the furniture out.

Now, yes. Maybe there are other ways of dealing with this. Maybe there are not. Seems the school is using some similar system. I just read this story and instead of thinking of what a "miracle" all this is I wanna go, "Doggone it. He needs more support in school and they need help at home. This story never should have happened." Why does stuff like this have to happen?


  1. It will be a better story if on September 26th, the day of these parent's next custody hearing, the judge look at what happened in the school and realize perhaps the parents did in fact use the least restrictive measures to ensure their son's safety.

    I heard this father being interviewed on the radio when the son was still missing. The story didn't mention anything other than that a boy with autism had run away from his school.

  2. That is so sad. People who haven't been there have no idea how hard it is. I know my boy isn't as bad as Joshua, but it's still hard dealing with an extremely hyperactive 3 year old with speech delays--who now has ITP. Imagine the bruises (and the dangers for him)--a friend suggested we get a note from the doctor in case anyone suspects abuse. I almost cried. I hope Joshua gets to go home soon. Bless his heart and bless his parents!

  3. $50,000 for a mover??? Is that a typo? Because that seems like an awful lot.

    I'm appalled that the authorities just stepped in and took Joshua without finding out why he'd been tethered; couldn't they see there was a move going on? Then they did the same thing themselves which is worse.

    I applaud your gate system for Woodjie, he's safe and you know where he is at all times.
    I hope those parents get their Joshua back.

  4. Julie, that is so exciting! I am praying for this family.

    Bonnie, I'm not kidding, you should get one of those tiny business cards, write the info on it, have MD sign with phone number and then laminate the puppy. Takes you a few mins but may save heartache. Truth to tell, if I were a stranger not knowing his condition, I might call if things looked super-horrid... and I'd inadvertently cause a lot of heartache.

    River, it's not a typo but a bit of an exaggeration. Professional movers can cost very large cash outlays. Then they change their prices and demand cashier's checks before they will unload the truck. It's happened and it's hard to stop when you're new/need your stuff etc.

  5. [sigh] The irony is thick, but I guess writing "tethered" and then "tied" helped the writer of the article suppress the fact that they are one and the same.


  6. That is heartbreaking. I can't believe that he is still not home with his family.


  7. Wow..... The state really scares me. We've been through a scary thing in the past, I don't know if you remember but it was so demeaning. I feel so bad for those parents.


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