For Gomey and his family daily life, dealing with the challenges of autism, has changed into nightmare.
Lack of knowledge by others often disrupts the relative wellbeing of autism families, and here too this is the case.
Gomey and his family worked hard to learn to deal with specific autism issues.
Now he's 19 he's a so called high functioning autist.
On wednesday january 27 Gomey and his mother received a message he would have to leave his home and within 2 hours 6 policemen and several social workers came and took Gomey out of his secure environment and brougth him to a psychiatric hospital in Montreal called "Hôpital Rivière-Des-Prairies".
The young man, who has never slept a night outside his home, was brought from the familair, english speaking, environment into a complete strange situation without any preparation whatsoever. Added to his, for autism characteristic, impairment of cummunications skills a language barrier, because the hospital is french oriented. He does speak some words in French, but not enough to feel comfortable... if that would be possible under those circumstances.
Why he was brought to a hospital where french is the language of communication in a town where also a hospital is available where english is spoken is a big question.
At february 1 Gomey finally could hug his family. The days before familymembers were not allowed to visit or call him, information about his wellbeing was withheld.
Gomey himself doesn't know why he has to be there. He feels imprissoned. He has lost everything he had.
He wants to go home with his mother, far away from the screaming he hears often during the day.
And all due to one person who doesn't understand autism.
She's a social worker who took over the yearly ritual of a short assessment of the family to reach an agreement about some hours of respite care.
She just started 4 months ago and after speaking with Gomey for not even an hour she decided she knew it all and put the whole train of breaking up a happy family in motion.
She took matters in her own hands, probably without even consulting the professionals who know Gomey well and who never saw any reason to doubt Gomey, his family and his living conditions.
The court order said that Gomey is is a danger to himself, to others, and even suicidal.
Something which is not recognised by anyone who knows Gomey.
And even more important: the doctor in the hospital that he is currently staying at informed the family that he doesn't self mutilate and is no danger to others or to himself.
Yet, on february 2nd, the court decided Gomey should stay at the hospital 21 more days.
Those who started and kept this mistake in motion want him to move to a group home.
Not the home we all would wish for our grown autistic children, where they have support to learn to take care of themselves and find a place in society where they can feel happy, but a kind of psychiatric ward. A family member said: "Here a group home is a punishment, and is run down, for mostly mentally unwell people
All against the wishes of Gomey and his family, who want him home, who want him to develop himself at his own pace and to his own abilities. Like other autistic people all over the world.
Gomey was a nice young autistic boy who went to school with an aid provided by the board of education. He's still going to school a few times a week, because he's unable to go to college with his peers, and because he's eager to learn.
(Taking him away from school also means he's not going to school).
Gomey plays clarinet, guitar and piano. When he feels happy he sings. He's learning Spanish because he loves languages too.
He doesn't have close friends, which is a characteristic of many autistic people, but he's engaging in social activities with his family nevertheless.
They go on hikes, they love traveling to Europe when they can afford it, and his mom taught him to ski.
He was delighted that this winter enabled him to ski a few times and he was looking forward to do so a few more times. Which won't be possible now he has to stay behind locked doors for so many weeks.
Gomey loves looking at old pictures, especially of his visits to amusement parks with the subway and street cars. But even those pictures are not with him, and there's certainly no one to share his memories with.
And he can't replay scenes of the amusement parks or create new games with his brother. Something they both enjoy.
Gomey is important to his family members, they love him and he loves them.
Why the new social worker drew the damaging conclusion from meeting Gomey for not even an hour is the main question.
Even psychiatrists and psychologists take more time to access suicidal risk.
People who know Gomey question themselves how someone can decide he's a risk for his environment.
In all those 19 years he has never harmed someone, never attacked someone.
Gomey was recognised for his hand flapping.
Many autistic children display some sort of repetitive movement. Especially in times of stress or overstimulation.
Gomey learned to listen better to himself and as he grew up he learned to recognise difficult situations and often he's able to deal with them, sometimes with and sometimes without help.
There's no reason whatsoever to state Gomey is automutilising (physically harming himself).
Gomey has been seen by doctors for a metabolic disorder. He has been hospitalised for weight loss and he's now treated under medical supervision from a special clinic in Seattle with a special diet.
His mom was taught how to prepare Gomey's food and she is strict om keeping him on this diet. Especially after Gomey reported he felt stronger and far better.
That his mother keeps him on this diet might have been part of the reason the social worker decided Gomey need to leave his home and family.
The family lives in Sainte-Adele in Quebec, a small town. Before the family lived in Toronto, where they had easy access to services which are not available in the small town.
The family is afraid that now the hospital has assessed that Gomey isn't automutilating and is no harm to himself or others, the attention will shift to his mother and the diet.
Because Gomey's metabolic disorder is rare the diet is rare too.
Even though the social worker is no doctor and no dietician, she has come to the conclusion that this diet (low oxalate diet, see http://www.ohf.org is not of benefit for Gomey.
Maybe she didn't understand that his loss of weight wasn't due to the diet and he was seen by the best of doctors.
Maybe she doesn't know that quite a lot of autistic young people have problems with either eatinghabits or weightissues, and that little is know about this correlation.
Maybe because Gomey's mom didn't agree with Gomey participating in a work program at a time he needed his energy for other things, she has decided his mother is not cooperative enough.
Maybe she has decided that Gomey's mother harms her son with a diet that can't be of harm when the proper supplements are provided, Like Gomey's mom does.
Gomey's family doesn't know why this social worker acted the way she did.
Before Gomey was taken from his home by a policeforce and several social workers he was happy and told his family he felt happier than ever before.
The family needs a lot of answers and Gomey needs to be free to go where he wants.
He's 19 and didn't commit any crime, so there's no reason at all for a 6 headed policecorps to take him from his home without his consent.
We need the story of Gomey spread to those who can take action.
We need lawyers to look in his case, because his rights were violated.
We need psychologists and psychiatrists who dare to speak out on behalf of this family.
Social workers who want to give a second opinion about the family,
and professionals who want to work directly with the family to support them and solve the matter.
Anyone who can contribute from his or her profession is welcome.
There are so many questions that need to be answered,
files to be requested.
Why was Gomey taken from his home?
Why did they come with so many people?
He is 19, so the law allows him to make a well informed choice. Why where his rights violated?
We need you!
The family wants to cooperate in any way to solve this matter.
What you can do:
- Copy this graphic or the code and put it on your blog to draw attention to this story.
(If you're able to, download the graphic and upload it to your site. Either link properly, or put the url of the grapghic in the code.)
More graphics will follow.
Inform me about the url.
- Write about Gomey and autism.
Let me know your url, so I can mention it here.
- Inform your local papers and write/mail to those in de Montreal area.
Ask me for a press release, in case you need one.
- Inform any of the media.
- Twitter about this story
and follow ActionAutism or Laanetweets to keep updated.
- Send a card to Gomey and his family to show your care and support. Others will notice these cards too and know that this family is watched. Maybe they'll take better care.
- Rock the world so Gomey will be set free.
Gomey's family are an example of many families who have to deal with professionals who make daily life a hell, because "they know better".
Many parents fear interference of Childcare and other organisations because they take care of their children in a way which is not like society takes care of normal children.
Link to updates can be found at the top and here.
Autism is a neurological disorder which can't be cured, but can improve when the environment is able to adjust to the needs of the person.
Because of a lack of differential diagnoses many children are considered autistic and won't receive proper support and therapy, whereas they show autistiform behaviour which can be influenced with proper treatment of the underlying physical condition.