'We're not ready, he's not ready': Family fearful ahead of son with autism's homecoming
Published Monday, December 4, 2017 11:51AM EST
A Halifax-area mother says she and her family are simply not ready to bring home their nine-year-old son who suffers from violently aggressive fits of anger because of his severe autism.
Carly Sutherland’s son Callum has been in the IWK Children's Hospital since Oct. 19, after his school called 911 during one of his violent outbursts.
Those outbursts began about six months ago, Sutherland told CTV’s Your Morning, when she and her husband began noticing their son’s communications skills were regressing.
“He responded with a lot of aggression because of the frustration that came from that,” Sutherland said from Halifax on Monday.
That aggression included kicking, punching, biting, and head-butting, she said, and continued until the 911 call and his admission to hospital.
With her son due to be discharged this week, Sutherland said she’s afraid that not much has changed and the aggressive outbursts will begin all over again.
“My concern bringing him home is that really, he’s the same child who went into hospital six weeks ago,” she said.
“…So it’s kind of like half-stitching the wound. We’re not ready, he’s not ready.”
Sutherland doesn’t blame the hospital unit where her son has been cared for: they are equipped to treat patients with mental illness, not autism, which is a developmental disability.
“So they really do not have the resources to support a kid with his complex needs,” she said.
A key problem, Sutherland says, is that public funding for the intensive behavioural intervention therapy that Callum needs comes to an end in Nova Scotia after a child reaches the age of six.
The Sutherlands have had to hire their own therapists – at great personal expense – but are still trying to hire and train more assistants, as well as prepare their house for Callum’s expected outbursts by installing such things as shatter-proof glass.
Six weeks is also not enough time, she says, to prepare emotionally for their son’s return.
“My husband and I have really been traumatized by this whole experience, as has our younger child, who is six years old, and we just feel like we are really still in crisis,” she said.
After speaking at a news conference last week, Sutherland says she and her family have taken comfort in all the messages of support they have since received.
“I think what I’ve learned above all eIse is that I am not alone. This is not an isolated case, this is not a rare thing,” she said. “There are many, many families out there who are in the same situation as we are.”