The parents of an autistic teenager who is being held in a psychiatric intensive care unit are leading with the public to help bring awareness to what they feel is a grave injustice. The parents are calling the experience “a hellish nightmare.” The entire ordeal just proves that society, as a whole, doesn’t completely understand autism.
Matthew Garnett has spent over six months in the unit, a place his parents contend just isn’t practical for helping him. He is 15-years old. He suffers from autism and learning disabilities. Now he is essentially in prison, and his parents are left helpless. His parents have started a petition on Change.org, hoping to bring awareness to not only their son’s case but other cases. The parents claim Matthew’s case is “not even the worst story out there.” His parents claim the lack of support at the psychiatric unit has led to his having a broken wrist.
The National Autistic Society tweeted out the petition as well has support for Matthew’s family. They also urged “more understanding” for kids with autism.
— Nat Autistic Society (@Autism) March 7, 2016
The problem began back on September 4th of last year when Matthew, then 14, became furious with his parents. He punched his dad and threatened to kill him. The police arrived and cuffed Matthew. Matthew’s parents, at the time, agreed with police and doctors that he should be detained under the Mental Health Act until the appropriate treatment could be found. But that’s the rub: no treatment has been found, and Matthew continues to rot away in an environment not built to help children like Matthew. And his parents have no rights left. You can be assured that his parents never intended for this to happen. They anticipated several weeks, not months. Matthew has received no treatment since his “incarceration.”
Here is information taken from their change.org page:
Matthew is our beloved 15-year-old son. He has autism, learning difficulties, ADHD, along with complex and yet un-assessed mental health difficulties that require urgent investigation and treatment. But for the last six months, he has been denied this, trapped, alone, in a place unequipped to look after him.
In September 2015 Matthew was detained under Section 3 of the Mental Health Act in a Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) – the equivalent of an A&E, but for mental health illnesses. We were told this was temporary and that within six weeks he would receive an autism-specific assessment, treatment and care. Half a year later he has not been moved. What I was promised would be a six week pit stop has become a six month jail sentence.
His chances of recovery are diminishing every day that the NHS fails to provide him with the appropriate care he urgently needs. Matthew’s deteriorated since he has been in the PICU and staff have themselves admitted that unit cannot appropriately care for him.
If our son had a severe physical illness, and was detained in a random A&E department miles away from his home for six months, refused assessment, treatment and care, it would be seen as totally unacceptable, an outrage, a scandal. Yet, because our son has autism and mental health problems, the issue has been swept under the carpet.
The doctors tell us ‘the problem is at commissioning level’. When we ask what can we can do to fix it, they reply, ‘There’s nothing that be can be done.’ But together we can! Petitions have helped to get autistic children the care they need before and with public support we can help Matthew now. The more people who sign this petition, the more the Government will have to hear about what’s happening to Matthew – and do something about it.
We are calling on the Alistair Burt MP and NHS England to urgently find space for Matthew in a specialist autism facility where he can get the treatment he needs.
Please sign and share our petition and make room for Matthew.
#makeroomformatthewLETTER TOMinister of State, Department of health Rt Hon Alistair Burt MPCEO NHS England SIMON STEVENS
Isabelle Garnett started this petition with a single signature, and now has 257,258 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.
The Petition is here at Change.org.