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Parents Keep Autistic Child in Cage

Parents Arrested For Keeping Autistic Son in a Cage

A couple in California has been arrested for allegedly keeping their 11-year-old son inside a cage. Police responded to a tip Tuesday night, and when they arrived at the house they found a fairly large cage containing a mattress. Although the investigation has just begun, police believe the parents locked up their son as a way to control his occasional autism-related outbursts.

"Putting him in that cage may have been a way for them to try to, in their way, control what was going on," Lt. Bob Dunn tells a local news station. The police have yet to determine how long the boy had been kept in the cage, but they say that there were no initial signs of injuries or other abuse. Dunn hopes that, despite the tragic nature, some good can come from this case.

"Maybe this family will get some of the assistance that they need."

Front Page Image Source: Flickr user imaginedreality

KarenBoard KarenBoard 3 years

Sherelle, I share your pain. I wish people could understand how physically and emotionally and mentally exhausting it is for families in this situation. There's no easy solutions. And as the children get bigger -- into their teens and adulthood -- it becomes almost impossible.

ChristineTemple ChristineTemple 3 years

My young daughter with Down syndrome has some mild to moderate behavior and sensory dysfunction issues. We visited a relative with who had a large cage for their pet and my daughter kept wanting to go in it and lay down. There was something comforting in that small controlled space that made her feel safe and content. I don't know what it is like to raise a child with autism, but maybe the boy also found that space safe and isolated for his needs, while the parents were able to keep him in a monitored environment during periodic times of the day or evening. It may not have been the perfect or optimal solution, but it the child had the ability to enter and exit that space without being locked in, I can understand the parents trying to find solutions for both themselves and the boy, while dong the best they could with what they had available to them.

KarenBoard KarenBoard 3 years

It seems it's an issue of semantics, nello -- apparently it's ok to put a child in seclusion as long as the walls are made of drywall, but if the walls have bars, then that's abuse? Or a "safety bed" is ok, but a larger enclosure that is essentially the same thing except it actually allows the child more freedom of movement is wrong, because it's considered a "cage"?

AyeshaJackson AyeshaJackson 3 years

I work daily with children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Let me just say, "if you've never experienced a child violently and viciously attacking you as their parent, their siblings, random people, etc, then your judgment should have no place in this article and on this discussion board"... many of these children/adults are very loving yet because of the lack of being able to appropriately express themselves their frustration aggressively overtakes them and usually they have absolutely no concept of pain, whether inflicting it on others or on themselves. Behavioral Therapy is extremely vital for these families, and if that is not obtainable then desperation can surely arise causing these types of incidences. God bless this family! I pray their story brings awareness more than judgment

RitaDavey RitaDavey 3 years

Heidilynn Schumaker from R.Davey
I was not blaming the parents' if this is what you think. As I said where is the help these days for parents with Autistic Children. There really is none. However, when they think the parents' are wrong in what they are doing what do they do, put them in Foster Care. These parents' obviously had no alternative. Autistic children can be very high maintenance and w/o the proper help, which our Government doesn't give a rats ass about, very few cities have the help for these children, such as say Five Counties who are there for these children. However, parents' have to find a way to get them to these places, drop them off/pick them up. Yet in the end they are no further. My grandson was one such child and they did nothing for him. My daughter gave up to Society and did what she thought right. Yes my grandson was on medication, as yes at times it helped. His mother however did not have Respite Care nothing!!! Thats' why I said where is Society for these parent(s). If your on Assistance they look down on you, if you have money thats quite a different story. I myself cared for 2 Autistic children just for a couple of hours, I was in my 30's at the time, and between the two of them I had to have eye's in the back of my head. Did the parent have help, NO!! Eventually they ended up in a home b/c the father could not handle them and the mother had walked out on the family b/c why? The children she could not handle. So where do we go from here?? Yes are Society is stupid, I very highly agree with you.

LouiseBarr1316 LouiseBarr1316 3 years

OMG, I feel for this family. I went thru absolute HELL with my violent 17 yr. old autistic son. He was in and out of mental hospitals constantly, but they can't keep him for more than 2 weeks, so they'd send him home, warning me he would kill me one day. BUT I FOUND MY ANSWER! Medical "maryjane" has been a MIRACLE! He has just gone 38 days straight with only 1 meltdown (and that was because he wouldn't eat and got too hungry). He used to get violent several times a day, so I am thrilled! It took several weeks to figure out the proper product (goldfish edibles) and doseage, but once we got it, he's been a changed boy. He's happy and singing and a joy to be with! This should be legalized in every state!

MichelleBennie82327 MichelleBennie82327 3 years

I'm abit outraged with the the word "caged" it demeans everybody envolved, i cant see how its any differant to putting up child safety barriers which we all do when needed, stop demonising parents and find a better way to help parents that have kids with long term needs

diana42296 diana42296 3 years

hi Karen I do have a very violent child who has done all that you described in your reply. he is extremely aggressive to us as his parents and his little sister he does attend a school for kids with behavioral problems too. but I believe there is a way to to keep everyone semi safe without locking the child up. for our son he needs an energy outlet. everyday my husband and I are left with bruises and bloody scratches on our face and body fr him it's not fun but we understand this is part of his disability and he can't control himself. I have to go to work now. thank you for your reply

MichelleBennie82327 MichelleBennie82327 3 years

I dont have a child with autisim but have a very close friend that does, i have twins and in some instances have had to put safety guards up is that any differant? people judge when they have never lived through a situation, as long as its not abusive leave people to decide what works for them.

KarenBoard KarenBoard 3 years

We actually did something like that for our son. Our previous house had a little 6x6 room with a big window going into the next room (and windows looking outside) that already had cork on the walls (it had been a little music practice room). We put pads down on the floor, a big inflatable swimming pool in there, and filled it up with balls, and the rest of the room with soft toys. And that's where our son went when he got into a violent frenzy. He had lots of sensory input and a safe place to work out his frenzy without covering us with scratches and bruises and yanking the hair out of my head. And we could see him through the window to make sure he wasn't doing something to hurt himself. Unfortunately, he started to try breaking the windows....

KarenBoard KarenBoard 3 years

Stress -- YES. Selfishness??? Only if you consider it "selfish" to protect the younger children from their big brother. Or to protect the boy from himself. You need to walk ONE DAY in their shoes (or come over to my house and walk in mine). You will see just how "selfish" we are.

KarenBoard KarenBoard 3 years

OK Patti -- PLEASE share -- what other solutions do you recommend when a child is hurting himself and other family members???? I've been taking our child to numerous specialists, he was hospitalized for 8 days (all they did was drug him to the point he couldn't even walk to the bathroom, then pronounced him "calmed down" and sent him back home). Ten months later, after filling out multiple forms and applications, meeting with a half dozen case-workers, we STILL have NO help. The waiting lists to get even minimal help are miles long. It looks like it'll be another 6 months or so before a Medicaid Waiver passes so we can get a measly 4 hours of respite care a week. We have contacted multiple agencies and STILL don't have behavior therapy in place -- even when we're willing to pay out of pocket. So, PLEASE DO TELL me Patti -- what other solutions there are?

KarenBoard KarenBoard 3 years

Anyone who feels compelled to judge this family is welcome to come over to my house and observe. Or, dare I hope? Maybe give us a hand? We do the best we can, still on waiting lists to get behavior therapy and 4 hours of respite care a week, so we are pretty much left to our own devices to try to deal with violence day and night.

KarenBoard KarenBoard 3 years

At my son's special needs school, where a lot of the children are violent, they have a little "seclusion room" attached to the main classroom that can be used when one of the children gets violent. They also have this swinging hammock (that completely encloses him) that my son spends a LOT of time in. He loves the swinging, it calms him down, and he can't really hurt anyone when he's tied up in it. I would guess that these parents may have gotten the idea of using the large container from the "seclusion room" he probably had at school. With 2 other children and extended family, etc. in the house, they probably didn't have the luxury of having a whole room to confine him in when he was violent. The large container also gave them the advantage of being able to observe him (they couldn't do that if he were locked in his room).

KarenBoard KarenBoard 3 years

It would be more cruel to allow the boy to attack his younger brother and sister, or to allow him to harm himself. If the younger brother and sister had shown up at school with bruises and scratches, they'd probably have been removed from the home by CPS. There are no easy answers in horrible situations like this.

KarenBoard KarenBoard 3 years

Diana, while I commend you for advocating for your son, I can guess that he isn't violent. What would you do if he were harming himself and others? What would you do, if, in the time it took you to step into the bathroom, he was clawing at his younger sister, leaving scratch marks across her face, sticking his fingers into the fan, throwing a lamp (or the laptop) on the floor, or running into the kitchen to get a knife. This is MY reality, and I suspect this poor family had a similar situation with their son. They had two younger children to protect, and they needed to protect the boy from himself. He probably needed to be watched every second of the day and night, with someone who could immediately intervene if he began self-harming or hurting his siblings. And, with two other children, meals to be cooked, laundry to be washed, how could this Mom possibly handle that?

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