I came across an article in The Star that focuses on youth with autism. Imagine having a child with autism who as a toddler had tantrums, but as a 13-year-old boy-these tantrums have accelerated into what one Canadian family describes as an ‘explosion.’
Laura Kirby-McIntosh describes life with her autistic son, Cliff as ‘navigating landmines’ within her house. “A month ago, Cliff had a meltdown during which he was able to overpower his father for the first time, throwing him to the floor and putting a hole in a wall.” The system is particularly clumsy when it comes to handling kids like Cliff. When he had a meltdown in school, police were called and had to sedate him to get him to the hospital.
There, doctors didn’t know what to do. Cliff’s symptoms were made worse by all the loud noises and pungent smells in the hospital — the exact opposite of the setting he needs to relax. In more than two dozen incidents over the past two years, hospitals have refused to admit Cliff, his mother reports. It got so bad last week that Kirby-McIntosh refused to take her son home and ended up staying at a Toronto emergency room for three days.
What is a family to do? Where does a family turn? Solutions are needed and funding is needed along with more research; this much is obvious. The parents of this 13-year-old boy want to see the province of Ontario create crisis centers for kids with autism. In the meantime, Cliff, the 13-year-old boy, stated during a recent brainstorming session:
He envisions an ideal autism crisis center with specialized doctors that would let him stay for a few days if necessary. It would have a ball pit with soft music and soothing lights and a trampoline and a pool — all things that help him cool down and focus without any distractions.
To me it makes sense to speak to both parents and youth with autism to obtain ideas and possible solutions. Who better than the ones living with autism or the families of youth with autism to raise awareness.
Written by Victoria Brewster, MSW
SJS Staff Writer in Canada
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