Friday, April 10, 2009

Severely Autistic Child Assaulted By Care Worker Margaret Garvey

Liverpool Echo Photo of Margaret Garvey
Convicted of Assaulting Severely Autistic Child
By Dragging Him Across Floor By His Head

As the parent of a severely autistic 13 year old boy who grew at an astonishing pace this past year, and who now stands somewhere around 5' 10" tall, I am well aware of the challenges facing care workers who provide care for severely autistic children. I love my son but I am realistic about the challenges his Autistic Disorder presents and I am very appreciative of all those who work, and have worked, with him. Those who work with autistic children choose a rewarding but not an easy path. Challenging behaviors though are not an excuse to assault an autistic child as English care worker Margaret Garvey was found to have done by an English court on March 17, 2009.

On April 7, 2009 Ms Garvey was sentenced to 120 hours of community services and to pay compensation and costs. Laura Jones at Liverpool Echo reports that Ms Garvey assaulted the boy by dragging him across the floor by his head:

Magistrates heard their son, who is suffers from so many learning disabilities he cannot speak, was assaulted on April 17 last year. Garvey’s co-worker Dominic Butler raised the alarm after witnessing the incident as Garvey, of Priory Close, Formby, got the child ready for bed.

Marina Jay, prosecuting, said: “The care worker [Mr Butler] looked up and saw the child run across the corridor – with Garvey right behind him – and out of sight.

“The next minute, Garvey has hold of the right-hand side of his helmet, pulling his whole body with the helmet.

“His face was grimacing. He had his hand up as if he was in pain.”

The court heard after the boy was dragged across the corridor and into his room, he got to his feet and walked slowly to bed.

Ms Jay said: “He had gone from being a livewire to cold and upset.”

The boys parents were upset that Ms Garvey did not receive a custodial (jail) sentence, or at least a suspended sentence for the assault. I understand their feelings. The description of this assault indicates that it was very serious. The boy was in pain and could have suffered serious physical and emotional harm.

It is probably no consolation to the boy's family but there are two positives in this story.

One, Margaret Garvey is no longer employed with the agency. Hopefully she will never again work with autistic, or otherwise vulnerable, children.

Two, Ms Garvey's co-worker Dominic Butler deserves recognition, and praise, for speaking up about the assault; not always an easy thing for a co-worker to do.

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1 comment:

Nestor L. Lopez-Duran PhD said...

I was thinking the same thing about the co-worker. In my experience working at medical centers and hospitals, this (someone coming forward) is unusual. It is great that this co-worker was there to witness the event and make a stand against it. The co-worker not only helped removed this woman from the profession, but also provided a strong statement, from someone who works in the same environment, that such behavior is not accepted and necessary. Nestor.