Man with autism had to undergo detox after care

Autism rights advocate Fiona Pettit O’Leary said she was horrified after learning that a young man with autism had to be detoxed after being taken out of residential care.
Man with autism had to undergo detox after care

The man’s case is highlighted in the first report of the confidential recipient for the health service, prominent disability campaigner Leigh Gath.

The man, who is non- verbal, was taken out of community-based services “for assessment” and then put on sedation medication.

He never had more than a headache pill in the previous 25 years but had to be hospitalised twice because of the medication.

At the end of 12 weeks, he was only allowed to attend his own case conference following a lengthy dispute, but could not use his communication device. His parents refused to attend until he had a voice.

His parents left the meeting thinking he would be offered a community replacement again — he was sent to another institution miles from the family home. He stayed there for two years despite repeated pleas by his parents for community services.

The man is now living in the community again, and is being detoxed from the drugs he was kept on while in residential care, which is more expensive.

Ms Pettit O’Leary, a founder of Autistic Rights Together and an unsuccessful first-time candidate in last week’s general election, said what happened to the young man was a breach of human rights.

“This is an extreme case but it is not unusual. Medication is sometimes seen as a quick-fix solution but is not addressing the other issues. You are not giving the autistic person a chance to express themselves because they are not afforded that right,” she said.

The case was one of 119 concerns and complaints received by Ms Leigh during her first year as confidential recipient. Her appointment was made in the wake of the Áras Attracta scandal in 2014.

Among the concerns raised were two serious problems of people with disabilities being placed in residential facilities against their will or being inappropriately placed.

Most of the concerns (106) are now closed; 58 were resolved and 32 were dismissed. Other closed complaints have been either partially accepted or passed on to other authorities.

Ms Leigh received 14 complaints or concerns from people during the first three months of last year — over the same period this year she received 42.

She hoped that being a Thalidomide survivor made her more compassionate but she was also a straight talker. “They can’t say to me, ‘You don’t understand; you don’t have a disability,’ because I do.”

Short-term care

A short-term home-care team was provided for a woman with physical and intellectual disabilities who has up to 120 seizures a day.

When not having seizures, the woman, who is non-verbal, screams almost constantly because of the pains in her head leading up to the damaging seizures.

The family contacted the confidential recipient because they were on call around the clock and could not sleep because of the screaming.

The home care team allow her parents to stay with other adult children to get some rest. A residential provider is still being sought.

Alleged abuser

An intellectually disabled man remained at the same residential care home as his alleged sexual abuser for two years after the HSE became aware of it.

The family reported alleged abuse to the provider and the HSE in 2002, but it took another two years for the alleged abuser — also a resident — to be moved out of the house.

The man, aged in his 40s, continued to suffer verbal and physical abuse by other residents but was moved to another residential facility early in January after his family contacted the HSE’s confidential recipient. He and his family were happy with the move.

Man with autism had to be detoxed

A man with autism ended up having to be detoxed after being sedated while in residential care.

He had been removed from a community-based service for assessment and ended up in a perfect storm of misadventures.

The young man, who never had more than a headache in the previous 25 years, had to be hospitalised twice over a 12-week period because of the medications.

At the end of the 12-week period, the man, who is non-verbal, had only allowed to attend his own case conference following a lengthy dispute, but could not use his communication device.

He was moved to another residential institution, kilometres from his family home, and stayed there another two years returning to live in the community again. His mother fought to get him back living in the community again.

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