Saturday, February 05, 2011

Severe Autism Reality 2007 Flashback - Long Island Autistic Woman Beaten by Attendants in Group Home

Here in New Brunswick, Canada,  we have made little progress in providing decent residential care and treatment for severely autistic adults.  The recent case of the Nova Scotia autistic man locked in his room for 15 days and left to urinate in a corner reminds us all of how desperate life can be for autistic adults particularly those who are too severely affected by their autism disorders to be able to tell their stories when abused by those who are supposed to provide them with care. 

Few stories have been as revolting  and disheartening though as that of the two staffers at the Plus Group Home facility in Long Island arrested in 2007 for repeatedly beating a 50 year old autistic woman with a coat hanger and a shoe. Another employee witnessed the assaults and torture and informed police.  A recovered video camera recorded the assaults  as reported by the New York Daily News:

Two staffers busted for beating autistic woman


Sunday, August 19th 2007, 4:00 AM

Cops nabbed two employees of a Long Island group home - and are looking for two more - who repeatedly beat a 50-year-old autistic woman with a coat hanger and a shoe as a hidden camera taped the attacks.

Nelly Gedeon, 20, and Johny Djhon-Felix, 33, employees of Plus Group Home Inc. in Uniondale, L.I., have been charged with torturing the disabled woman at least four times between Aug. 9 and 16.

The attacks were caught by a video camera cops installed in a vent.

"These people are hired as health care professionals and their job is to care for these people, so it's unfortunate they've abused their position and mistreated this patient," said Nassau County Police Sgt. Michael Williams.

The abuse was first caught on tape Aug. 9 when the employees were taped hitting the woman on the head. Three days later they were taped kicking her in the buttocks, hitting her in the head with a wooden coat hanger and hurling it at her head. Gedeon was also seen hitting the woman on the head with a shoe, police said. An Aug. 16 video showed Djhon-Felix hitting her on the head and shaking her while pulling her hair.

"The defendant [Djhon-Felix] noticed his actions were being recorded by a hidden camera that he disconnected and stole," cops said. The camera was recovered.

Plus Group Home Executive Director Terri Cancilla said an employee notified police of the suspected abuse.

"Safety is a priority," said Cancilla. "We hope this sends a message that this kind of abuse won't be tolerated."


Anonymous said...

I agree that we need better care for severely disabled persons. Oftentimes, the funding is not adequate to provide the one-on-one care some of these people need.

However, please be aware that this is not an "autism reality", but an abuse reality. The woman's autism is not at fault or the cause of the abuse here; it is people's belief that they can get away with abusing a severely communication impaired person.

Unknown said...

astrid, her severe autism put her in a position where she would be vulnerable to abuse. My son has limited communication skills, if he is living in care as an adult and is abused he would probably not be able to communicate the situation to others.

Anonymous said...

Harold, I know that this woman's severe disability is making her more vulnerable by being unable to communicate. However, the focus should be on the fact that this kind of abuse should never happen. By shifting the focus to the woman's disability, you are almost suggesting that her disability causes the abuse, which is a form of abuse apologism.

Unknown said...

No Astrid, you are wrong. Point blank wrong.

I am not severely autistic. I am approximately 6 feet 2 inches tall, a big guy who has had enough experience that none of the staff who abused that poor woman would have tried that crap with me. Her disability makes her vulnerable to some of the evil people that in fact exist.

vmgillen said...

Once again, we need to look beyond the individuals - 'cause there are bad people out there, truth be told. To me, the most astounding part of this is they (the Agency, presumably) PUT IN A CAMERA TO RECORD - clearly aware there might be a problem - then checked it at their convenience???!!! therefore, the woman was abused on multiple occasions. The State Mental Health Legal Services was, or should have been, notified that a camera was going to be installed, absent permission from legal guardian - presented with a situation prompting a camera THEY DID NOT ACT TO PROTECT THIS WOMAN.

Sad to say, direct-care staff are recruited from the lowest-paid, least respected part of the workforce. And, really, bad things happen - we can't see into the future and cover every base. But in the name of all that's right and proper, think of a cop seeing a crime in process, waiting for backup to come in, making sure everyone's in proper uniforms with pens and pads ready to write up the incident, and all the while not doing a damn thing to stop the crime.

vmgillen said...

one more thing: size does not protect you - don't kid yourself. Think how much time is spent teaching, or rather training, "compliance" - my son is large: 6'+ and 300 lb+. He was physically abused...