Gomey, an autistic young man removed from his family by force

Fixed post

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
very sad."

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.

Who knows?

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?
Etc etc.

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.)

    Help Gomey

    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 is just one of the many autistic young people who are either thrown behind bars or put in institutions, just because people don't understand the true nature of autism.
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.


Unknown said...

Thank you so much for posting this story! So many of us in the autism community are behind Gomey and his family! I will be posting this article and will be doing a show about Gomey soon...i'll let you know when i have a date set. :)

Tricia Kenney
Autism Women's Network (Missouri)

Nikki Ty said...

I would suggest making a short film of Gomey with his family and posting it on UTube. This venue reaches a huge audience and has proven to be a powerful tool against wrongs.

I am horrified by this story. Doubly so because I am originally from Montreal and am an English-speaker. Were I to find myself in a totally French environment, I would be distressed too. This is a terrible miscarriage of justice and fairness. Shame shame

Alannah Ryane said...

Yes I agree, make a video with interviews from people like the doctor and link it back to this blog.

Maureen Lee said...

I couldn't have said it better, Never Ordinary. We can only imagine what Gomey and the members of his family are going through - something that no one should have to suffer. Shouldn't the members of our community (especially organizations that should "know better") be working together to ensure that everyone (especially people with autism, who are sometimes marginalized & made to feel like outsiders)feels included, deserving, equal, appreciated, and loved?

But it's amazing what can happen when people join hands and work together. (I have added the graphic to my blog, http://ideal-way.blogspot.com, and tweeted about it.) Thank you for sharing this with us, so that each of us can do our little bit.

Nedekcir said...

And everyone is very sure that every government agency are here to help us. People wake up and smell the reality, this is exactly a very good example that they are not. Anyone that will come to my house to take my children away from us will be greeted by leads in my opinion. Who the heck they think they are to tell me what is good for my children? It's all about control and money, that's all they think about.

Greetje said...

I've blogged about it too, tweeted and the graphic is in the sidebar.

Gomey, you won't be forgotten!

Stacie said...

I read this what a horrible situation. Your right it's lack of others understanding.

Cate Bolt said...

I am the mother of a 13 year old high functioning autistic boy, and like many parents of autistic children my life is a fight every day to combat the ignorance of others and to fight for the rights of my son.
This story disgusts and terrifies me but unfortunately it doesn't surprise me. I'm sad to say that it doesn't surprise me, because it SHOULD. This should be so rare that we can't believe it could happen but ignorance is rife and those who abuse their power for whatever reason need to be made accountable.
Having worked in the prison system here in Australia, I have seen young autistic men being bullied and unfairly imprisoned for things that should have been better managed.
The only way we can combat this, like many things in society, is to continue to raise awareness, understanding and compassion.
I extend my strength and compassion to all parents of autistic children - it's hard enough to deal with on a daily basis without constantly having to defend and explain our parenting, and their behaviours.

Anonymous said...

I live in San Jose, Ca. I am going thru pure hell the last two and a quarter years because my immediate neighbors do not understand AT ALL about my youngest son being autistic. We move to the house we live in because it was in a court minimizing traffic for our son, because it did not have a swimming pool diminishing the risk of him drowning, leveled our back yard and cut many of the trees to minimized him climbing, removed all the rocks from both front and back yard to minimized him throwing them, trimmed a great fruit tree in the front yard because it block complete visibility as if children or our son was behind the tree as we entered into our drive way...to this the neighbors to the left had a freak-out, and eventhoug I explained they did not care at all, and started murmuring, and gossiping about us with the rest of the neighborhood. Needless to say they filled their minds with garbage about us, and it shows because we could not communicate with our neighbors since about the time we moved here 4 years ago. Our neighbor to the right place a basketball hoop, with an insecure water base which had a whole in the bottom, right in front of my front yard, I asked him to remove it from the area and from the street, he did not care, he yelled at me, and after calling the city for a period of three months, and the city not doing anything, I got extremely frustrated after three months of waiting for that hoop to be taken out of the street and one day my kids wanted to go outside in the front yard and play and after e telling them no, they cried and yelled at me. I cannot let one child go in the front without having my autistic child wanting to go too, and me having by force to go and babysit him. I got so frustrated that now I could not use the front yard and have had to jail my kids for such a period of time because I was at that time, and I am very afraid still, that my son will climb that insecure basketball hoop. I did something out desperation, and without thinking I place their street based basketball hoop for free on Craig's list. It turns out it is against the law to do that, and eventhoug it did not feel right to do it, I did it. Now, I am suffering the consequences of that. The neighbors files a restraining order, which fail in court, but they were accusing my child of everything under the sun without any proof that he actually did it, they accuse me of despicable things too, and everyone in the neighborhood signed the restraining order petition. It is pure hell their ignorance, carelessness, lack of understanding, viciousness, malice, gossiping, slandering, discrimination, and ultimately terrorizing our family. How can you possible survive with that? On top of everything we were Mormons, and have given up going to church because one of our neighbors whom it is very mad at us because we trimmed the tree in the from her hurt neighbor, eventhoug we have permission from the city to do it because the tree is in our side, refuse to accept free (bought twice tickets because the first batch she "lost" them) to go see my daughter in a theater performance because "of what I did to her neighbor" These Mormon family signed the petition to a restraining ordered against me and my son. These MORMON family..That is supposed to know better. It is needleless to say the HUGE and bad example of caring and understanding they have left of my oldest kids and the HUGE disappointment on their beliefs.
I am shock that I will have to continue dealing with such ignorance, and carelessness. We definitely need to unite more and pass federal laws that will protect our children more, because right now they are at the mercy of ignorance and a real big danger from society.

Nichole said...

Hi there - posted my personal experience with autism spectrum disorders on my blog here:

A fellow blogger posted her take here: http://for-the-pits.blogspot.com/2010/02/on-autism-and-ostracization-gomeys.html

Dorothy said...

Wow this is incredible and I hope there is justice in the end. I am often disappointed by social workers who are often over worked and under trained. I will pray for a happy ending.

Dorothy from grammology

And pass the word around...

Anonymous said...

This would be a far more effective story if it were written better with proper grammar, capitalization and punctuation!

Evergreen Thoughts said...

really strange situation. Appeal to all blogger to help glommy to reach his family again.

AVA said...

Best anonymous.

It would have been nicer when you would have given contact details, like a blog or mail, so you could have helped correcting the language.

English is not my main language.

But when you're better writing dutch than I'm writing english you're comment is appreciated.

Nofar Ben-Elkana said...

Thank you so much for writing the article. You write beautifully, better than I could ever.
Your English is fluent, Perfect and full of heart,and willingness.. loving you, always in gratitude to you.
Love Nofar

Ivy said...

I think your writing in English is beautiful. I really felt the affection and concern you have for Gomey as I read your post. I am an editor, and if you would like for someone to edit the content, I would be happy to do that for you. But I don't think it's necessary.

Blog Tactic said...

I think the authority made a rush decision.

dickster1961 said...

I am the parent of a 15 year old boy with autism so I appreciate you making us aware of Gomey's story. I have added a post and a link to your post on my blog.

Nile said...

I think it is terrible that he was dragged from his home for no reason. I know that usually social workers are suppose to be thorough, but this is a case where that did not happen. It was as if they skimmed the files and made their own conclusion regardless that it was wrong and could hurt people.

I hope he gets out ASAP and some kind of apology to him and his family can be given.

By the way, I work as a virtual assistant of The Healthy Moms ( http://www.thehealthymoms.net ), the site is fairly new and I thought I would drop by some family-oriented related sites to spread the word.

Clueless said...

Having dedicated my career working with individuals with developmental disabilities including the autism spectrum and the last seven with adult with DD, I am absolutely appalled. In the California system, this would, hopefully, never happen. At least, I wouldn't have let it especially after one visit...there would be lots of steps in between. I feel so much for Gomey and his family.

I will write a post scheduled to publish on the 19th. I will give you the URL once I finish the article. Thank you for sharing this information with us.

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