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Autism Nova Scotia board member calls for national strategy

A nine-year-old boy with severe autism is scheduled to be released from a confined hospital unit at the IWK Thursday

A nine-year-old boy with severe autism is scheduled to be released from a confined hospital unit at the IWK Thursday.

Callum Sutherland suffers from violently aggressive fits of frustration.

Ally Garber, a board member with Autism Nova Scotia, told NEWS 95.7's The Rick Howe Show Callum's parents have a plan in place, but that's only because of private support they've received.

"Carly and her husband John have obtained respite support workers, these respite workers are going to need to be trained by behavioural specialists that Carly and John are paying," she said. "These respite workers are absolutely not trained to provide behavioural support, which is what Callum needs."

Garber said Callum is non-speaking, and it's very frustrating for him to not be able to communicate. His only way to express himself is to lash out.

"It did unfortunately get quite violent, Carly had a broken nose, her husband John had a black eye," she explained. "Nobody blames Callum for this, it is a symptom of the lack of support that we provide autistic children and adults, we don't have enough preventative programming."

She believes this story has been a catalyst for a national conversation, and with so many credible experts in Canada, she hopes the Trudeau government is listening.

"I really feel like if the federal government were to harness that, we could be global leaders in supports and resources for autism."

She said it's been devastating to see Callum in crisis, and his case is not an isolated incident.

"He's not alone unfortunately, we can do better."

Listen to Rick Howe's conversation with Ally Garber, a board member with Autism Nova Scotia:


Meghan Groff

About the Author: Meghan Groff

Born in Michigan, raised in Ontario, schooled in Indiana and lives in Nova Scotia; Meghan is the editor for CityNews Halifax.
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