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A 21-year-old Australian boy is shackled to a bed today. The reason why is sickening.

boy with autism shackled to bed
(Image: Change.org)

James Pascoe turned 21 last week.

But instead of blowing out the candles on a cake, surrounded by family and friends, he spent the day shackled to a bed.

His mother Bronwyn Pascoe says that just two years ago the young Australian man, who has autism spectrum disorder, was well enough to happily walk around SeaWorld with his grandmother and aunt.

But two years ago — after his beloved nana passed away — James began to experience grief and loss issues, which his parents believe were triggered in part by the memory of losing his baby sister years prior.

The young man embarked on a spiral of disintegration involving self-harm and aggression, and his parents say they begged the Victorian government for funding to keep him at home, where they could give him the support and therapy he needs with the help of trained professionals.

But the Pascoes claim the government refused to fund James’ support needs properly, and that they were told by the state Department of Human Services that if their son became aggressive they would have to simply call the police, “who then have no alternative to admit to hospital”.

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As a result, the Pascoes claim, James has now endured a painful two-year cycle of being sedated and shackled, continually passed between respite houses, hospital and care facilities  — with no effective treatment plans for James’ ongoing issues.

It’s a “a cycle of trauma” with no end in sight, Mrs Pascoe told the Daily Mail.

“He is a prisoner in that room, he isn’t allowed (to) go out because they can’t risk it, and he doesn’t get to see daylight, he’s maintained in one room,” Mrs Pascoe said in interview with the Daily Mail. “Prisoners actually get treated better, and why should he have less because he’s an autistic child?”

“I’m sure if he had normal abilities they wouldn’t be able to treat him like that,” she added.

The Pascoes have now launched a Change.org petition begging newly-elected Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to address the needs of people with autism like James.

“He needs a proper treatment plan and help so we can bring him home,” the pair write in the petition. “We also don’t want to see this happen to any other people with autism – the government should really provide adequate funding for people with autism, their families or carers who need urgent help.

He does not require medical treatment, he requires understanding, love and support being shackled and chemically restrained contradicts the care that he requires.”

While the Victorian department of human services told Mamamia it could not go into personal details about the case, it confirmed that “James was admitted to the Northern Hospital by his family”.

“His family and a consulting physician are making decisions about his care while in hospital,” the statement said.

“While several options for support have been offered for James’ long term care, these options have not so far been accepted by his family. The department will continue to work with James and his family to make sure he gets appropriate and quality care.”

You can find the petition here.

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