Denis Maltez, who had autism, died in 2007 at age 12 after being restrained by staff members employed by the group home where he lived in Miami. An autopsy determined that he was experiencing serotonin syndrome, a condition where the body produces too much serotonin, the chemical that regulates a person’s mood. The syndrome can be caused by a combination of psychiatric medications.
“This is a clear case of a 12-year-old child who perished because he was given a lethal combination of off-label, dangerous, anti-psychotic drugs to control his behavior without appropriate consent, administration and supervision,” said Howard Talenfeld, Quesada’s [the boy’s mother] attorney. “Tragically, this case is one of many cases where foster children and developmentally disabled children are given powerful drugs to control their behavior instead of utilizing appropriate behavioral interventions.”
With echoes of the inappropriate ‘care’ dolled out to Jesse Moores, this seems to me another example of a young person with special needs treated with scant thought or care. Its sickening that there seem to be so many of these stories on both sides of the Atlantic recently. I sincerely believe that there needs to be an international coalition of voices – made up primarily of autistic people and their immediate families – to offer oversight on how autistic people are treated. This cannot be allowed to continue. Closing down homes, jailing perpetrators etc after the fact is all well and good. We need something proactive not reactive.