Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Autism and Poverty in Indonesia: Autistic Child Kept On a Leash

"I don’t think we are still living in a time when people could be put on a leash for a health or mental problem"

Kronjo village chief Rudi Mahfudin, Indonesia

Autism, particularly severe autism, presents huge challenges for families in Canada and the United States.  In some parts of the world though the situation is much more desperate.  In Poverty forces parents to keep autistic child on a leash The Jakarta Post reports about a 10 year old boy with severe autism behavior challenges whose family, living in poverty in Saga farming village, with no assistance from authorities, has been forced to keep the boy on a leash to prevent him from wandering off and to prevent him from acting aggressively towards others in their village:

After his third birthday, Agus had tantrums and we often saw him talking to himself. He also frequently left home, sometimes not coming back for days,” he said. Fajar suspected that the tantrums may have had something to do with the death of their father, Haryono,Their mother Haderi, 45, was pregnant with Agus when Haryono passed away. The sudden death of Haryono may have had a deep psychological impact on Haderi. Fajar said his mother went into depression. 

After learning that Agus was suffering from autism, the family could only do little to find appropriate medical treatment for him, given their financial condition. So rather than having to search for Agus whenever he left home, the family decided to put a leash on him. “We have no choice. We are afraid that Agus could hurt others,” Fajar said. 

The family has tried to contact the local administration to seek help, but their calls have fallen on deaf ears, Soon after the death of Haryono, Haderui worked to support the family as a farm labor collecting unhusked rice left over from harvests in Tenjo Ayu, Serang. A local leader said that Agus was not the only one. Neighborhood unit head Tohir said that there are at least five autistic children who had not received aid from the authorities."

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