Mothers tell of horror at home

Single mother Anne Heel and her son Christopher in front of their Queensland house

Campbell Gellie

THEY’RE almost like ticking time bombs, and several Mackay mums admit they are at the end of their tether when it comes to knowing how to handle their violent autistic sons.

The Daily Mercury has spoken to three mothers who feel helpless at the hands of their sons, who are continuously being suspended from school for their bad behaviour.

They say the small number of official services they are offered are not enough to deal with their autistic children.

And the co-ordinator for Mackay Autism Support Group, Letitia Daveson, said there would be a lot of other parents out there living with the same torment, including with children not diagnosed with autism.

Slade Point mother Anne Heel spent yesterday at home with her 12-year-old son Christopher after he was suspended for swearing at a teacher the day before.

Christopher has been diagnosed with autism and it was nothing new for Ms Heel to hear he had sworn at a teacher.

He yells, swears, hits and runs away on a daily basis, she said.

Sitting in their home yesterday, Christopher was well behaved, shy but albeit easily distracted.

Even he admitted he didn’t want to continually get in trouble.

However, Ms Heel said his behaviour could all change quickly after being told what to do, told not to do something or if he was bullied. Rage would boil over.

She said she has tried everything – from parenting workshops, psychologists, counselling and mentoring – but nothing stopped Christopher from losing control.

“If I do anything I get into a lot of trouble, I can’t restrain him,” she said.

“If I don’t get help now for him he will end up locked up in jail when he is older and I don’t want that to happen to my boy.”

She is not alone. Lynne, a registered nurse who didn’t want to reveal her surname for fear it could affect her career, said she had been the victim of abuse from her 14-year-old son for years.

There had been many times she had been assaulted by him – once on Victoria St she was on the ground as he continued to kick her.

Her son had also been diagnosed with autism but she sometimes wondered if it was the disorder or he was just an “a---hole”.

Like Ms Heel, Lynne and her husband have tried everything; counselling, calling the police, the Autism Support Network, enrolling him in Navy Cadets, sporting clubs, new schools and charging him with assault.

Then there were all the different parenting techniques, but none of them worked.

“We still haven’t given up hope for him but we need more services for him,” she said.

There were waiting times of six months for different services, she said, and once they were able to assist, her son would not engage with the specialist and he would be out of the system quicker than he entered it.

Letitia Daveson said there would be a lot of parents in the same situation with the extent of the behavioural issues changing person to person.

She also agreed there could be more services provided to Mackay families, most importantly behavioural specialists.