The mother of an autistic girl from Bridgewater, N.S., is fighting Nova Scotia Community Services over a plan to put her daughter into a group home with five older men.
Caitlyn Pickens is 23-years-old, but her mother Cheryl says she has the cognitive level of a three-year-old, limited verbal skills and is just learning how to use the bathroom.
She’s been living in a four-resident group home for youth in Bridgewater where she gets constant supervision, but because of her age is being told she has to move. Pickens says when she and her husband put their daughter in Newton Home, they were told the residents would age with the facility and be there on a permanent basis.
Pickens told News 95.7, moving her into a facility with five older men is the only solution Community Services is offering.
“The other option might have been a large facility, institutional-type facility in the Valley. And I’m not sure if that was given as an option or a threat, but it was making us feel as if this is our only option,” said Pickens.
“My concern whether there’s supervision or not, things can go wrong and it is not the right environment for a three-year-old girl or a 23-year-old girl. She needs people with similar interests, she needs females around, she does not need to sit with men in front of the television all day,” Pickens said.
“I know there are day programs and that Caitlyn would participate, but her attention span is limited. She needs to have space to run and play, like a three-year-old. She needs a yard, she needs activities, not just sitting in her bedroom or in front of the television.”
Pickens says while Community Services agreed to put the brakes on the move after they voiced their concerns, the department is continuing with the process to introduce Caitlyn to the new home’s staff.
Pickens says she’s not sure how to change the direction of the situation and find a suitable place for her daughter to live.
“We’re not privy to information…they’re not very transparent and that to me is deceitful. I want to know what the plan is, I want to know every step of the way. Not just the transition plan, but the rationale,” said Pickens. “Why place someone in a home that isn’t suitable? I want some control over what happens to my child, because she will always be a child. She will never be an adult.”
Picken says there are some great facilities in the region for mentally-disabled adults, but more small homes are needed, especially for growing children.
“The problem isn’t going away, they will continue to age out of youth facilities and be young adults and they don’t belong in the seniors’ residence.”