Cheryl Merritt: Caretakers should be punished

July 15, 2013 

Punish caretakers

I was horrified to read that a man who lives in a group home in Apex was left in a stifling hot van for six hours (“Man with developmental disability left in hot car,” July 10 news story), and that police decided not to file criminal charges after conferring with the Wake County District Attorney’s Office.

Our adult children with autism are in group homes because they require continued supervision and often need specific directions for everything they do, including getting out of vehicles. When taking residents to a work site, the paid caretakers failed to protect this man, see him in the rear-view mirror or check the van before leaving it parked.

If a dog is left in a hot car, the owner can face criminal charges. But apparently a person with autism can be left in a hot vehicle and suffer heatstroke and no one is held responsible. Could it be that people with autism are the unwanted in society and deserve no respect and dignity?

Parents expect paid caretakers to be responsible and accountable for their actions, but now we learn that people with autism have no protections under the law. What is a parent to do?

Cheryl Merritt, Sanford

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