January 15th, 2021

Trapped in limbo of the system’s dysfunction

By Letter to the Editor on March 21, 2020.

I am the loving and proud single father of a severe >and complex young adult man with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Our lives are in a serious crisis and my future prospect to continue contributing emotionally and financially to his lifelong well-being is seriously threatened.

The frustrating thing is that Alberta has potentially paid between $750,000 and $1,000,000 on my son in the last 12 months based upon recent cost projections. Yet the net result is that my son’s quality of life is diminishing due to the inability >of systems across Alberta ministries to work sensibly together. If something is not done soon, his lifelong care costs will be prohibitive.

In the past 12 months, my son has received support from Disability Services, Persons with Developmental Disabilities program for three months, three months hospitalization in Lethbridge, and seven months mired in the judicial system. >Due to lacking co-ordination in the police system when I requested help to return my son to the hospital, inappropriate chargers were placed on my son – a young man with a profound intellectual disability and autism. Although these absurd charges should inevitably be withdrawn, my son is stuck in a state where the courts have not addressed charges or his release.

Although he cannot speak for himself and I am his legal guardian, the charges also claim I am a victim – hence the courts have not provided me information I need nor have they permitted me to speak on his behalf. He remains in a forensic psychiatry >unit, as he is too disabled to appear in court, and too disabled to be placed in the remand centre. >A court-ordered psychiatric assessment was completed in October 2019, but he has sat in limbo for eight months at further cost to government and zero benefit to him.

I am a qualified teacher and social worker, unable to work given our current economy and our family life savings are depleting. Although support by his loving father with less costly services are the most obvious solution to manage his complex case care, dysfunctional systems are harming my son and costing Alberta excessive >costs.

I have reached out to many agencies, departments and individuals to learn how I may advocate for and best support my son’s needs, but to little avail. I am pleading with the offices of the province’s justice minister, health minister and the Lethbridge-West MLA to support my son and his inclusion in our community and return to homelife with me in short order.

Kenneth McLean


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