A Look At the Proper Use of Services for an Autistic Child (Op Ed)

by Josh Rayfield 

When I was growing up in grade school I was in guided learning classes because I had a learning disability but the real nature of my learning disability was not known. I went to a private school for kindergarten and first grade. I was transferred into public school in second grade when my learning disability was diagnosed and I stayed there until I graduated high school. I started in guided learning classes at that time. In second grade I had to attend adaptive gym otherwise known as adaptive PE. This was because I had trouble in gym class with typical class activities like throwing and catching a ball, speed, and paying attention to what was going on around me. Academically, I struggled with math and with test taking. I needed help with homework every night and I very often had trouble keeping up with assignments in school and getting them done in a timely manner. Despite this, I got good grades in school and I continued on to college and I completed a Bachelor of Arts degree. I received guided learning support services in college.

During grade school, I experienced a lot of anxiety because I was constantly worried about failing in class. However, I had the love and support of my family and the services that were provided by the school system were good enough to get me through. At the time it time it was not known that I had an Autism spectrum disorder. This was for the most part the 1980’s. Even if I had been diagnosed then, the services that I would have been provided were not what they are today. I was very lucky growing up with my disability in the sense that in addition to the love and support that I got from my family, I did not need home care. Trying to get outside support for day to day living needs for me was never considered. As I grew up and became a teenager and young adult, I was able to go out in to the community without supervision, on my own.

The fact that George Hodgins did have access to services and did not receive proper help in getting the right services is a tragedy. I think that Georges mother pulling him out of the support services that were there for him is a tragedy. I think that George would have benefited from an assisted living facility where he would get the help that he needed with day to day care, and learned basic living skills. He would have received occupational therapy as well as emotional support therapy. I have had six and a half years of occupational therapy and it has helped me immensely. I think that George would have benefited from someone teaching him about the world around him and exposing him to it in a healthy positive way. Along with this, he needed someone to help him tap his potential to help him find strengths that I know that he had.

His mother had no right to do what she did. She had a mental illness. George deserved real help from people who truly cared about him and had his best interests in mind. He needed to be taken out of the environment that he was living in with her and he needed to be put in a healthier environment. I know that there were support services available to him. The tragedy is that he was denied them by his mother and that there was nobody in his life to over-rule his mother and get him out of that environment and in to one where he could be kept safe and given care by individuals who were able to help him.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Josh’s piece is an opinion piece, and as such is his opinions not those of the blog as a whole. For more details, please see the comments]