(TRINIDAD EXPRESS) – A distraught mother is calling on members of the public to educate themselves on the various disabilities that exist and to treat people with dignity and respect, especially those living with a disability.
In an emotional Facebook post on Monday, Kamlaa Mohammed recounted what she described as the horrifying experience of having her 14-year-old son, Aleem, who suffers with severe autism and is non-verbal, allegedly abused by a security officer during a visit to the Couva District Health Facility on Monday.
This is Kamlaa’s story: “I took my other son Adam, who is seven years old and has Asperger Syndrome, together with Aleem to the Couva District Health Facility as he’s a patient of a doctor at the Child Development Clinic. I had a 9 a.m. appointment and when I went there I was standing as there were no chairs. So my son was standing at the dispensary counter and a security guard asked him to move.
“Now remember Aleem has severe autism and he’s non-verbal so he did not understand what the man was saying, he did not even make eye contact with the security guard.
“So the security guard took his hands and pushed him forward and told him to go sit down in the back. Now Aleem has a tendency to touch people gently with his hands, and he touched the security guard right by his stomach. And to my horror, the security guard grabbed my son and pushed him and started to rant, saying don’t touch me, move from here.”
Ignorant security guard
Mohammed said all this happened within a matter of seconds, as she was standing right next to the vending machine just a few steps from the dispensary counter.
“I am trying to explain to this man, while trying to stay calm, that my son doesn’t understand and he did not look at you or respond to you because he has severe autism and he cannot speak.
“And this ignorant security guard, and I mean ignorant in every sense, didn’t want to hear what I had to say. He kept saying he don’t want nobody touch him. And I’m trying to keep calm because my seven- year-old son is sitting there and I didn’t want to go into a rage.
“So the mother in me kept calm only because my-seven-year old son was sitting there, and my 14-year-old son was clearly upset because he’s not accustomed to anyone treating him like that. He is growing in a house with love.”
She said not only did the security officer not want to hear anything from her, but he did not apologise for his behaviour.
She added that he only backed down when a male parent with an autistic child came to her defence, and all the patients in the clinic also took a stand against him.
“Now in this day and age with technology, at least you should know what autism is. And even if you don’t, you should have some sort of human decency in you to treat people with dignity and respect.
“He treated my son like he was some sort of drunk person that had to be escorted out of a bar. That is exactly how he treated my son.
“In this day and age of technology where different disabilities are highlighted all over social media. It’s all over the news, it’s on Facebook, it’s on twitter, Instagram, name it. In this day and age, please people, educate yourself.
“I thank God that I had the patience and the strength to keep still. I prayed and I thank God I was able to keep myself calm. If my husband was there, I don’t know, it might have been a totally different story.
“I am begging each and every one, it doesn’t take five minutes to educate yourself about different disabilities, especially one like autism because autism has no face. You can’t see autism in someone, and unless you’re educated you would not know. So I’m begging for the sake of these children, for the sake of the parents.”
Mohammed said people with children without disabilities as well as those do don’t have children don’t know the struggle of growing a child with autism, but she knows.
“So for the sake of my child and for the sake of other parents and other kids with autism, and other disabilities, please educate yourself and think before you act.”
When the Express contacted Paragon Protection Consultants Ltd, the firm the security officer is employed with, operations manager Debbie Baptiste was said to be indisposed but would return the call.
The Express was later told Baptiste had left office for the day, when a second attempt was made to reach her.
Calls to the mobile phone of Dr Brian Armour, chief executive officer at the South West Regional Health Authority, also went unanswered.