Regular readers may know that I am a mom to a special needs, non verbal young adult son. He is among the most vulnerable among us. He cannot tell me if things are okay. As mom I must glean from his actions and signs whether he is happy, scared, hungry or tired.
One of my greatest fears is that someone would hurt or abuse him. Because of this, I am and will always be a ‘helicopter mom’, one who hovers nearby, always watching for an indication that there might be a problem.
I could be the mom in this video. This woman was concerned that her autistic son was not receiving good care. As an adult, the son lived in a nursing home with non-family caregivers. The mom’s intuition was so strong that she placed recording cameras in her son’s room and then watched the videos. The images she saw demonstrated enough abuse to her son by caregivers that they are now on trial for abuse.
According to the Examiner, the National Autism Association estimates that more than 200 students have died within the last five years due to restraints used in schools. A study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania shows that over 18 percent of children with autism have been physically abused.
With such staggering statistics, it may seem difficult for parents of autistic children to know how to protect against abuse and restraint. Cameras, such as those used by the parents of the 23-year-old in San Diego, are a good starting point.
No doubt, even the most experienced caregiver can become frustrated but it is never permissible to cause harm.
As Pope John Pall II said, “A society will be judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members…”