Autism in Group Homes
Diagnoses of autism have increased at an alarming rate in the past few decades, as the medical community has continued to learn more about this difficult-to-understand disorder. Autism is a highly variable brain development disorder, and its effects on individuals vary greatly from person to person. Some individuals with less severe types of autism may be able to function fairly independently as adults. However, others with more severe forms of autism may require residence in a group home facility. When family members make the decision to place an autistic child or other loved one in a residential group home, they trust that the group home, its administration, and its staff will treat their loved one with respect and dignity and will provide them with the highest quality of care possible in order to promote the highest quality of life possible. However, as many families already unfortunately know, many group homes do not follow through with their responsibility to their residents. In order to save money, many facilities do not provide proper training to their staff or do not have adequate facilities. In these group homes, the possibility of abuse or neglect is very high.
Though it has been the focus of great attention over the last 25 years, the medical community still knows frustratingly little about autism. Autism is defined as a brain development disorder characterised by impaired social interaction and communication and restricted and repetitive behaviour. Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) also include related disorders such as Asperger’s Syndrome and PDD-NOS, which typically have less severe symptoms. Due to their impaired communication and restricted behaviour, severe autism sufferers may need to live in a group home facility because they need assistance in performing daily tasks and communicating needs.
Duties of Group Homes
When caring for autistic residents, it is the group home’s duty to ensure that each resident is having his or her individual needs met and that the staff is fostering an environment of respect, dignity, and independence. All group home residents have an Individual Service Plan or Individual Support Plan (ISP), which is created to meet the individual resident’s needs. It is important that all group home residents’ ISPs are followed consistently, but with autistic residents, it is especially important. Since most people with autism have impaired communication abilities, they may not be able to communicate their needs to the staff. In these cases, the ISP is the only way residents have of communicating their needs to the staff.
Types of Abuse or Neglect
In addition to failing to properly follow a resident’s ISP, there are many other types of abuse or neglect that autistic group home residents may suffer from
- Receiving incorrect medication
- Not receiving medication
- Elopement(wandering off)
- Verbal Abuse
Contact an Arizona Group Home Abuse Lawyer if your child or other loved one is autistic and is a resident of a group home in Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale or elsewhere in Maricopa County, and you suspect that abuse or neglect may be taking place.