Canadian Parents Found Autistic Son as 'Prisoner' in Hospital

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By Sounak Mukhopadhyay | March 11, 2014 3:42 PM EST

It came as a matter of shock for the Spagnuolos, Joseph and Anne, when they discovered that their autistic son had been forced to stay confined in a hospital room as, the hospital authorities claimed, there was no other option. Security guards are supposed to watch "locked" Nicholas 24/7 while the hospital has failed to place him anywhere else.

According to Mr Spagnuolo, there is "nothing out there" in Ottawa Hospital's Civic Campus, CBC News reported. On the other hand, Ms Spagnuolo considers her adult son a "prisoner." Her adult son is not allowed to step out of the hospital room. If he tries moving out of the room, security guards make sure that he is put back to his room again, she said. Ms Spagnuolo found it "degrading" and "despicable" for her son to be treated as a "monster."

Nicholas is 31 years old. He has had cerebral palsy since birth. Additionally, he also suffers from dementia and autism. Nicholas is intellectually challenged as his emotional and mental capacity is just like a child's. His mother said that he was crying a lot. According to her, he has never cried like this before. She felt like leaving her 2-year-old child in the hospital, while he insisted on coming back home.

Nicholas kept on asking when he could go home, his father said. Mr Spagnuolo said that Nicholas pointed to the window and kept on thinking about returning home all the time. This is the first time in his life that he is out of his home. This is also the first time he is staying without his parents. The Spagnuolos brought him to the hospital in November 2013 as they could not deal with his continual seizures as well as violent outbursts alone any longer.

About 500 Canadian parents with autistic children gave a petition to Quebec's national assembly in February 2014. Over 1,300 people signed the petition which asked the Quebec government to make an investment of an additional amount of $12.2 million for the West Montreal Readaptation Centre, better known as CROM).

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