Boy’s death highlights need for quality professional development

I have worked providing residential care for people with autism. It is NOT an easy job. That’s why people who support the residential living experience of individuals with autism need quality professional development. Unfortunately, in too many cases, the only requirements listed for obtaining employment in residential services are a driver’s license and a high school diploma.

This lack of training is evident in a story the New York Times published earlier this month about the horrific death of Jonathan, a 13 year old with autism. Jonathan resided in the Oswald D. Heck Developmental Center near Albany New York. The individuals providing support to Jonathon were not trained properly, nor did they have the aptitude to be providing care to individuals with disabilities. This lack of ability resulted in a tragic death. The story reported that the Oswald D. Heck Developmental Center received approximately $430,000 per year to provide care for Jonathon — why didn’t this money provide training, supervision and oversight to ensure his safety?

Individuals with disabilities are disenfranchised members of our society. Their lives and well-being must be elevated to being worthy of quality care provided by quality paid professionals. Professionals deserve training and support to meet the needs of those for whom they are providing care. For more than 10 years, the National Association for Residential Providers of Adults with Autism has been crying out for appropriate training for professionals working in residential settings. How many more deaths are needed before we believe that there is a need for intervention?


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  1. Easter Seals and Autism » Blog Archive » No more silence — cracking down on abuse in NY Says:

    […] Wright wrote a post here in June about a 13 year old boy with autism who died while under the care of staff from in a residential […]

  2. Patricia Wright Says:

    Eric – thank you for your thoughtful response from a parent perspective. In-home care is an excellent option. Easter Seals supports in-home support as well. Many families would prefer that their child stay at home but need some additional services in the home environment to make that happen.

  3. eric richardson Says:

    this is a shame that why it scares the you know what out of me to put my son in a home , they pay the people who work with our kids with autism 9 bucks an hour and expect them to be the best workers in the world you could make more at mcdonalds, where was the rest of the money going to if it wasnt going to the people who work closest with our kids . there are lots of people who work with autism children who have only a high school education , but they have common sense and are trained and love there jobs , and are payed more for there knowledge in working with kids with autism , most of these group homes and day programs pay 9 dollars an hour and want you to take care of ten kids like you have eyes in the back of your head and drive too, and charge 4 times as much for your child to be there, why is it we cant keep our kids home and hire people we trust to help us get the job done , cause then big business wouldnt get there cut , i pray for this poor boy and his family !!!!

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