Exhausted parents echo cry for help
A severely autistic 19 year old man spent the night in respite care after his mother left him at a government of Ontario office in Ottawa.
His exhausted parents said they simply could not care for him anymore. Philippe Telford now has a place to stay at least until Friday. At that point, his mother says she has no idea what will happen. But she's adamant about one thing: she and her husband will not bring Philippe back home.
“It's really taken a toll on all of us,” Amanda Telford told CTV’s Joanne Schnurr outside her east end home today.
The strain of the last few days is evident on Amanda Telford's face. She never imagined leaving her 19 year old son Philippe. But for his safety and the health of her family, she says she had no choice.
Monday morning, she took Philippe to the government office of Developmental Services Ontario on Montreal Road, made sure he was safely inside with office staff, and drove away. He spent the night in respite care where he will stay until Friday.
"He's in a lovely, supportive environment,” said Telford today, “and I couldn't be happier.”
What happens after Friday, Amanda has no idea.
Asked whether he could be coming back home, Telford answers “That's not a possibility.”
Ottawa resident Al Roberts has walked in Amanda Telford's shoes.
"When I saw your story last night, nothing has changed, the system is still horribly broken,” says an emotional Roberts.
His 20 year old son Dillon has nonverbal autism and seizures. As he grew, so did his level of aggression. The family could no longer cope
“The system is meant for parents to provide for their kids but if you're broken down and you can't provide for your kids anymore, it doesn't make much sense does it.”
Roberts and his wife fought for a temporary placement for their son Dillon in 2008, after a trip to the emergency department at CHEO. He says a doctor assessed their son and determined the couple needed help. Roberts says they fought 5 months for respite care. When that care ended after nine months, they were told to collect their son. They refused to bring Dillon home.
Today, Dillon attends Clifford Bowey School during the day and lives in a specialized home with other adults with similar needs. His parents ski on weekends with him and take him to the cottage during the summer.
“We do so many things with him but when we do see him,” says Roberts, “it’s on our terms and we have the energy to give to him what he needs.”
Nearly 400 adults with developmental disabilities are on the waiting list in Ottawa for a similar placement. The executive director of the office where Philippe was left says that was a first for her office, but it may not be the last.
"It could happen,” says Anna Labelle, executive director of Developmental Services Ontario, “and because it's the first time we've experienced it, we have to look at what are our options and what can we do to respond.”
Labelle says they know things need to change in Ontario; they just need to figure out how.