Young kids are handcuffed, strapped down in hospital beds and knocked out with strong sedatives, as autism activists in NSW call for more counselling services for mental health.
A nine-year – old girl from southwest Sydney cries in front of a video filmed earlier this week and given to 9News as she is handcuffed and taken away by police officers after a school breakdown.
Families and social staff say that children with problematic habits and specific needs slip between the cracks when their age group lacks mental wellbeing and hospital care, instead of cycling between emergency rooms and police apprehensions.
Among them is Makayla, a bright nine-year – old girl who craves friendship and normality but deals with a blend of disorders that result in uncontrolled and often aggressive outbursts, including autism spectrum disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, ADHD and anxiety.
“I just want to be a normal family,” Makayla told 9News. “I want to make mummy proud.”
“Makayla told 9News,” I just want to be a regular family. “Mummy, I want to make her happy.”
Instead, she lives in fear of a sound in her mind and the effects of her own breakdown.
Makayla was handcuffed and placed into paddy waggons on several occasions, sectioned under the Mental Health Act, restrained in emergency rooms and removed from school.
Her mother Megan, who was attacked through outbursts by her daughter, said Makayla needs more professional support, but that medical professionals have admitted she is a child who has” fallen through the system’s cracks.
“We’re just being stonewalled everywhere we go,” she said.
Megan emphasised that she would not criticise the police, health professionals , parents, school or ambulance personnel who respond to accidents, but that the system does not provide children like Makayla with much-needed specialist interventions, medication and assistance.
The country’s only 24-hour hotline for struggling parents and guardians with children with autism is run by Grace Fava, CEO of the Autism Advisory and Support Program.
She said that in a similar situation to Megan, there are a lot of parents, of families broken apart, unable to cope and alone.