More autism, growing challenges

More autism, growing challenges

Iwrite this with great sorrow and a heavy heart. Tragically, a young boy with autism recently drowned in the swimming pool at Leonard Kirtz School while attending the summer enrichment program.

He wandered away and got into the pool. I read the articles in The Vindicator. Two things really bothered me, other than the obvious fact this poor boy died. First, where was the public apology to the family from the director of the MRDD? That seemed quite insensitive, and I have to wonder if this situation is now simply a legal matter?

And, why are there so many kids enrolled in their program? One hundred and forty children between the ages of 3 and 22. I know that in order to qualify for extended school year services a child needs to be pretty severe and/or at risk for significant regression over the summer. I read the comments of a mother of a classmate of this little boy on the site. She claimed the staffing in the summer program went from previous years of seven kids to three adults, but this year it was 13 or 14 kids to the same three adults. This sounds like a money issue.

Since 2003 I have written many letters to the editor of The Vindicator about all sorts of problems and issues facing our society because we now have all this autism. Experts claim we are just better at diagnosing this condition. Baloney. We have more autism.

Sources say there’s been a 600 percent increase in the last 20 years. Some 80 percent of those with autism are supposed to be under the age of 20. Autism affects people mildly or more severely.

Last week a 20 year old with severe autism was left to die in a hot van at a residential facility in Philadelphia. He was so disabled he didn’t even know how to get himself out of that van, and no one knew he was missing until it was time to give him his medications five hours later. His caregiver on that day is being criminally charged with neglect. His father, who is understandably very upset, told a reporter: “My son was essentially murdered by this woman. Now we’ll see what the people of Bucks County think the life of a disabled person is worth.”

I don’t know what the investigation of this local boy will find. All I know is we have too much autism. There’s more than we can handle and afford.

And too many of these children are meeting tragic and untimely demises.

My heartfelt prayers and thoughts go out to these families.

Andrea Keller, Canfield

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