Derek Hoare shows a picture of himself with his daughter Ayn in happier times
John Van Putten Photo
The British Columbia government, Ministry of Children and Family Development, has taken an autistic girl from her father's care after she went missing, very briefly, and was found safe at the nearby home of a neighbor. The father is on social assistance and had care of two autistic children, with the agreement of his wife. He is described in the Adrian MacNair - Abbotsford News report on bclocalnews.com as a caring father.
I felt a real chill reading this article and the father's description of his discovery that his daughter had gone missing. I felt that chill, in large part, because years ago my son Conor went missing on my watch and I reacted much as the father did in this case, running around looking for him, then calling police. In my case my son was safe and sound in the neighborhood, at a local convenience store. In Mr. Hoare's case his daughter was also safe and sound, at a neighbor's pool just two houses away. In my case I recovered my son without further ado. In Mr. Hoare's case the BC government took his daughter away from him as he describes:
"More than three hours later, Ayn was found two houses over in a neighbour’s pool. She was safe and sound. It was a fairy tale ending, told by various media covering the story. And for a moment, it was.When the police brought Ayn back, she ran to her father and threw her arms around his shoulders as he breathed tearful relief. But four days later, representatives from the Ministry of Children and Family Development came to his house with orders to take Ayn away.
“Basically, what they’re saying is I’m a single dad and I have two autistic kids and my other son and it’s too much for me to handle. So, they’re going to take one of my kids away to lighten my load,” said Derek on Tuesday, after learning he wouldn’t even be able to see his daughter until a hearing determines access rights.
Because of her 24-hour care requirements, she won’t go into a foster home, but will be placed in a psychiatric facility for evaluation.Derek is concerned she will be sedated and drugged for her autism, which he has always opposed, despite doctor advice to the contrary.“They’re probably holding her down and sedating her,” he said, his voice choking. “This is a nightmare.”A single father on social assistance, Derek said he has custody of his three children with the approval of ex-wife Amie Van Dyk."
The BC Local News article goes on to describe the steps that the dad had taken to provide a safe environment for his autistic children. When my son went missing we did call a behavior consultant who was already working with Conor and she designed some programs to encourage him to stay in our yard. Even with that training though Conor, like Derek Hoare's daughter, requires 24-7 supervision.
I hope that the BC Ministry of Children and Social Development does not keep this father and his daughter apart. I hope they work with him and provide help for his daughter. Government's should not be punishing the father ... or his daughter ... because they face serious challenges arising from her autism disorder. They should work WITH the father ... not AGAINST him and not against his daughter's right to live with a caring parent. A caring parent is an important asset for any child, including and perhaps especially, a child with a severe autism disorder. It is an asset that should not be lightly squandered and taken away by government officials.