In a heartbreaking story out of Canada, a mother-son duo have been found dead in their home.
Angie Robinson was pushed beyond her breaking point, and tragically took her son’s life before committing suicide, The Province reports.
Diagnosed with severe autism, 16-year-old Robert Robinson, struggled daily — he was unable to speak, head-butted walls and people, and regularly pushed and punched his shy, loving, 100-pound single mother.
Angie’s suicide note, and her final Facebook post, not only indicate her burnout, but the lack of appropriate government support. Although she pleaded for a residential placement for Robert, the distraught mother was turned away.
At 11:56 a.m. on April 2, Angie wrote her final Facebook post:
“More, more, more needs to be done for our teens with special needs, they are neglected … Canada needs more residential and respite care for families hoping to keep their children at home.”
What went wrong? How did the system fail this family?
HerScoop called on the expertise of Canadian social worker, Allison McClure, who not only works in the field, she also has a son with autism.
“It’s really sad that this mom was pushed to the breaking point,” McClure shares with HerScoop.
McClure went on to share some facts on funding guidelines in British Columbia, the province where the Robinsons lived.
“Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) respite is about a 4-year wait,” she shares. “And MCFD provides families with $6,000 a year for autism funding.”
So what is the breakdown of allocated funds?
“Speech and occupational therapy are bi-weekly, which is close to $6,000 a year,” McClure says. “The government would say this is provided by schools, but the truth is your child may see an occupational therapist twice a year, and speech once or twice a month.”
“Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is easily $6,000 a year,” McClure continues. “For children and youth with anxiety, Child and Youth Mental Health does not want to see kids with autism, so that is accessed privately and costs between $100-150 an hour, and is usually weekly. Extended health usually covers $500 which is not near enough to cover the needs, and families are limited to a specific pool of therapists. These therapies are offered during the week during traditional work hours. Therefore, some families must choose their child’s therapy over their career, and in some cases, live in poverty to ensure therapy is accessed. This is because private therapist cannot go into schools. These parents have a harder time getting a break because they can’t always find someone who will babysit, and if they do find someone, it can be expensive. Also it is hard to find after-school care for parents who work, and there are very long wait lists for supported child care.”
Sounds like a lot of red tape – and more problems – for families in need!
McClure goes on to paint the bleak picture for many families living with autism.
“The final kicker is the public who do not understand autism. These parents are isolated and suffer from a great deal of public judgements about their parenting,” McClure says. “It is unfortunately not uncommon for parents to hear comments on their child’s rude behaviour or their poor parenting. This isn’t necessarily true and it is hurtful and damaging to families. These families live with chronic stress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year.”
How can we help?
As a social worker in the field, and a mother of a child with autism, McClure pleads with the public to help support families like the Robinsons.
“Please show compassion to these families,” she says. “Help them because they are isolated and stressed — include them and their children. Your invitation to a birthday or play date might be the only one they ever had or will get. You’ll never know how much your kind gesture has helped them, and they will never forget you or your act of kindness.”
Share your sympathy for the Robinsons – and provide your own similar stories – in the comments below.