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In America: Headline "parents Kept Autistic Son Locked In A Cage"

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#1 Snickas


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Posted 04 July 2014 - 02:13 PM

We haven't had a good 'discussion' for a good while...so I thought, lets discuss this (sorry, I know its controversial, but it is worthy of a discussion).

This was the sky news report:


and these are a couple of articles in regards to whats happening:

Parents of a boy with autism have been arrested and charged with child endangerment and false imprisonment after the authorities found reason to believe that the boy with autism had been caged in a dog kennel.

The parents told the authorities that they used the cage for his own protection, claiming their 11-year-old son with autism would become violent and was sometimes a danger to himself and others. Many Americans are appalled that anyone could cage their own child and are calling for prison time for the parents of the boy with autism, while others are saying, “Not so fast.”

The report sheds light on the growing crisis facing families affected by autism that is sweeping the nation.


Anaheim Police Department’s Lt. Bob Dunn told an ABC News affiliate:

“We did develop information here at the home and our preliminary investigation indicates that as the boy has gotten older, his outbursts have turned violent. They’ve had difficulty controlling him. This may have been their effort to try to control him better.”

An autism specialist in Santa Ana told Fox News that it’s not an unusual situation because parents who are not given access to autism treatment for their children often become overwhelmed. The specialist said that some parents see it as the only way to contain a violent child with autism. The specialist urged the public to see the parents’ choices as a spotlight on the lack of available autism treatment more than a testament of “evil parenting.”

Dr. Joseph Donnelly of the Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders spoke about the sad reality many children with autism face:

“They’re self-abusive, they’re hurting themselves, they’re aggressive to their mother, their father, their younger siblings, and I don’t think anyone can really understand the stress they’re under unless they see it or experience it for themselves.”

Difficulties that have grown from the autism crisis aren’t just isolated to the home life either. School systems are overwhelmed and many professionals within the school system are ill-equipped to handle the unique behaviors caused by autism.


In addition, even professionals don’t always understand or know how to handle autism tactfully. Still other professionals are abusive toward children with autism. The sad reality is that one in 68 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with autism, and our society is not prepared to handle the autism crisis.

Bill Webster, superintendent of a school district in Maine, told the Sun Journal, “There are more extremes in behaviors than we’ve dealt with before. It is not uncommon, unfortunately, for us to call the police.” Webster added that the school district has to call the police on autism related behavior that personnel can’t handle at least once a month.

Laura Shaw, principal of Sherwood Heights Elementary School, spoke of a young child with autism who had become out of control. She was able to calm him by holding him on her lap until he relaxed, but said, “I remember thinking, ‘OK, he’s so little. What’s he going to do when he’s bigger?’”

Some schools have even turned to using padded isolation rooms in an attempt to keep children safe. Of course, the public is not comfortable with dedicated padded rooms any more than it is comfortable with a dog cage either. Reports of these rooms being abused or children being injured from their use have sprung up as well.

Another worry for people trying to parent in a home with autism is wandering. Children with autism often wander away from the home, and still other run away when they become over-stimulated or upset. Sometimes this behavior results in the deaths of people with autism.


Parents caring for children with autism are often afraid to call the police though. Reports of police harming and even killing children abound… leaving some parents unsure of their options at home.

AWAARE is a non-profit organization dedicated to addressing the situation of wandering. The organization’s website urges families to have a wandering emergency plan.

Group homes and residential treatment programs do exist, but are not readily available until after a person with autism has already proven themselves to be violent. Even then, these treatment options are not ideal. In a feature article on Salon, one mother explained what happened when her older son with autism was in a residential setting:

“His destruction was utterly senseless yet brilliantly thorough: He submerged his computer, stereo and iPod in water; threw puzzle pieces and Styrofoam cups into the toilet and flushed them, plugging the pipes literally dozens of times a week; and urinated on every square inch of his room: bed, walls, floor, closet, everything but the ceiling and that only because he had not (yet, I suspect) figured out how.

When I asked him why he did these things he would say, eyes narrow like a night creature, ‘I don’t like being caged.’”

After her son ended up in a mental institution, caged in a white room, because of violence she believes was caused by her child’s inability to cope in an overwhelming world, she added, “We cannot solve this problem by hiding it, the way handicapped children themselves used to be tucked away in cellars.” Knowing it is unfair for humans to be caged like criminals, she had no solution to offer either.

It’s important to note that while researchers have found a statistical link to violence and even murders to autism or head injuries, not all children with autism are violent.


The Autism Society said:

“To imply or suggest that some linkage exists is wrong and is harmful to more than 1.5 million law-abiding, nonviolent and wonderful individuals who live with autism every day.”

Having autism doesn’t guarantee a child will be violent, but many children with autism, like the parents of the caged 11-year-old boy assert, do become violent as a result of their autism.

Ann Worley of Springfield told the Washington Post that she has a scar on her cheek from where her son with autism once bit her. “There was a time last September, I actually locked myself in the bathroom,” Worley said. “I was scared. I thought I was going to have to call the police.” She followed up with similar hesitations that many parents face: At the time, she wondered how the officers would have handled her autistic son.

A blog post from Age of Autism points out no real solutions, but does issue a warning:

“As the teens with autism age out this problem is going to grow. Cute little boys who punch are a far cry from adult men (and women) who can injure and even kill. Ask Trudy Steuernagel. We need better treatments so that our boys and girls, men and women on the spectrum receive proper care. We need to train law enforcement. And we need a national alarm to sound that the autism epidemic is very real. The coming years will bring grave challenges. Violent does not mean criminal – but is our system able to tell the difference? And how do we teach and protect our kids from the backlash?”

One mother dealing with autism told Inquisitr that in order to protect her son, she attached cushions to the windows in his room and equipped his room with an alarm. She knew locks on the outside of the bedroom door was not an option, even though it is a cage-less solution for far too many parents dealing with autism. A locked room is still considered a form of imprisonment, and she finds the idea dangerous and unacceptable. She said parents need more training to properly handle autism.


The Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities offers a free, online training series for parents. Autism Internet Modules also offers training. Hospitals across the country also offer classes and support groups for parents.

SimpleSteps Autism has online information about the ABA approach to autism. Parents who wish to find more positive ways to raise a child with autism can find information online, even as state services are stretched too thin to accommodate them.

Yale’s professor Lawrence Scahill studied how well parent training worked towards improving home lives affected by autism. He said, “On the tantrums, the aggression and the self-injury, the combination of medications and parent training was better. How much better? Not a huge amount, but it was an incremental improvement over an already effective improvement.” Parent training is lacking in the United States, according to Health Daily.

Neighbors of the California couple who were charged with child endangerment and false imprisonment say all three children in the house appeared happy and healthy. According to police, the 6-foot-tall crate contained a mattress and bedding and allowed the boy to stand and move around.

Though the couple still faces charges, Anaheim police hope that the discovery of the cage might bring some good to the struggling family. Lt. Dunn hopes that this may result in the family getting the help it needs because a cage is not an acceptable solution. The story about the parents who claim they had no recourse – but to actually cage their own child – demonstrates clearly that the nation is unprepared to handle the growing autism crisis.



And theres this one: http://7online.com/n...in-cage/152402/



So whats your opinion?

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#2 Eggman


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Posted 04 July 2014 - 04:44 PM

It sounds like to me that these poor parents were just left to get on with it with no support on how to handle a very difficult situation.

#3 Snickas


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Posted 04 July 2014 - 05:23 PM

It's exactly how I felt too :(
But I have seen 1000's of comments, that well...is absolutely horrifying & disgusting :(

But on a positive note, I have also seen the parents of ASD children be supportive or understanding!!! :)

I wrote a fb status yesterday saying that basically a Safespace (http://www.safespaces.co.uk) could be interpreted as a glorified cage in a way, but is classed as a medical equipment here in the UK.

And the same way that my youngest needs his safespace, for 100% safe and secure environment to be able to sleep! maybe their child also needed to feel that same safe & secure environment?

#4 Jolly Roger

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Posted 05 July 2014 - 07:29 PM

It sounds like to me that these poor parents were just left to get on with it with no support on how to handle a very difficult situation.

What is the minimum level of statutory provision in the USA?

Here in England, it is much clearer: a family who did that would be locked up - but a social services serious case review would also take place, holding the local SS departments to account.

Do they even do that in the USA?

But on a positive note, I have also seen the parents of ASD children be supportive or understanding!!! :)

I've seen parents of children with and without ASD use special needs as a smokescreen to hide their own bad behaviour and inadequacies, as a justification for blaming others for their own failings, and as an excuse for trying to force authorities to give more than statutes require.

Only this week an organisation I volunteer for has been asked to support parental demands for a special school placement for a child who has only one need: for their parent to stop relentlessly providing excuses.

I wrote a fb status yesterday saying that basically a Safespace (http://www.safespaces.co.uk) could be interpreted as a glorified cage in a way, but is classed as a medical equipment here in the UK.
And the same way that my youngest needs his safespace, for 100% safe and secure environment to be able to sleep! maybe their child also needed to feel that same safe & secure environment?

Yes, well, stupid people judge things by their appearances.

In the year approaching my last serious illness, if you'd offered me offered solitary confinement with no demands, disturbances or outside interference, I'd have kissed you and cried freedom! Now, if you offered me a luxury penthouse apartment with all the trimmings but said I couldn't leave it, I'd scream oppression.

LN won't let us put anything in his Safespace - including sheets! He prefers to sleep on a bare plastic coated mattress - and you can only imagine what social services would make of that!
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#5 Mozzy


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Posted 05 July 2014 - 08:16 PM

I think there is a lot to be considered, ad with news reports we will never know the facts.


There was a story maybe last year about a maybe 12-14 year old (cannot remember and cannot find a link) being locked in a basement with their own pee and poop with just a mattress on the floor who never left the house and had very very limited contact with the family. They literally cleaned his room sometimes and gave him food and water. To me that is not acceptable however "severe" a person is they have rights BUT at the same time if he was not there would he be in some sort of facility in restraints etc? We will never know.


This recent case that you mention I think is different to the above I think this is different. He did not live in the cage, the reports say he was locked in it for periods of time. The reports also say he was healthy with no injuries. I do not believe he was neglected to the extent as the older story I mentioned.


In both cases the parents have not had help they need, this could be help and support or education or whatever. It appears neither had anything. Did they ask for it? Who knows but a child with Autism as "severe" as that should be in the system and checked on - they should not be unknown to the local authorities.


America is different to the UK. I have a friend who is an ASD specialist teacher in Detroit in an ASD specific school and the stories I hear of how little help outside of school and how hard it is to get into an ASD or SEN school of any kind let alone the right one is shocking. We moan about getting the right provision - they moan about getting no provision and in some cases exclusion with nothing after it. No tutor no PRU or EBD school or even the offer of a horrid facility!


So I feel sorry for the parents and as much as I do not think a dog cage (he would not have had room to stand up) is acceptable in any way I can understand how hard it must be for them.


We all have a cage of some description me included. I cannot access the community alone so I only go out with support staff. I only get about 30 hours a week of funded support so if we say there is 84 day time hours in a week (12 hours a day) I spend 54 of those in my "cage" - my home. To reduce this number I work (voluntary) and receive "free" care from them, thats another 16 hours a week taking my cage time down to 38 hours a week. And I go to a day centre for 2 afternoons 3.5 hours each time. So that takes my cage time down to 31 hours a week.


So for 31 hours a week minimum I am "caged" with (in theory) no way to go out, go and get milk when I spill the last of what I have and so on. Now in reality I have friends who I see, who help me and take me out to do fun things. We walk our dogs together and stuff so it is not as bad as it sounds - in my opinion I have a good life. But should I be caged for 31 hours a week? 


Take a family. Mum, dad, three kids and two of those have Autism. Mum is a stay at home mum, dad works shifts. So Saturday comes about the dad is working and the mum cannot take 2 ASD kids plus an NT toddler to the park on her own, she needs dad but dad is working. She is now "caged" on a nice summers day with 3 kids in a 3 bedroom flat with no garden. Is that fair? Should she be "caged"? Should the kids (NT and ASD) be "caged" and presented from going to a park less than 200m away which is free on a hot summers days?


In conclusion my thoughts are simple. No one should be locked in a metal cage, shut in a basement with their own pee and poop. That is very very wrong but sometimes is the only answer sleep deprived parents can think of without education and support. They may have failed but they cannot be totally 100% at fault the authorities have to be at fault too. Even if you said they did it because they hated their child that still does not make them 100% at fault because if someone hates their kid they must either have a really tough life or be unwell or maybe even both!!


It is also wrong that kids, families, me, you are having to plan our lives and when we do things taking into account a disability. We should be free to do what we want when we want. Not dictated to by support (formal or informal). We should (like anyone else) be restricted by money, geography etc but when the one and only thing stopping you from doing something is Autism that is wrong. But it happens to everyone and it happens every day. The only way to beat it is to accept it, live with it and accept a not perfect life but a realistic one.

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#6 Huwbert


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Posted 07 July 2014 - 04:19 PM

I love a good debate!

For me I think it's all about how the child perceived it. - did he welcome the safety and privacy of his own space, or did he feel scared and  confused and abandoned?

Is putting  a child in one room and shutting the door, so that the room is completely destroyed and wrecked but the child and all family members are kept completely physically safe a good thing or a bad thing? 

We look after a dog every day and some overnights.  She has an unlocked cage that is her safe place - she can go in there whenever she please and no-one is allowed to mither her  if she's in there. My boy wants us to leave her cage up - and he climbs in there with his duvet and bolts the door  - every time the dog goes home!   He can't stand up in there, can't lie flat in there and has to squash his long limbs to fit in it.  He still cries each and every time that we don't let him sleep in there overnight!    We have to monitor him closely as he will try to sneak down in the night to get in there!   Fair play. - when the dog is here he never tries that  - he feels lower down in the pack than the dog!!

Got to love imagining  how the Daily Fail would report that!



Edited by Huwbert, 07 July 2014 - 04:21 PM.

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