A Canadian couple, Maricyl Palisoc and Charles Wilton, are fighting to keep their one-month-old son, William, at home. Palisoc and Wilton, who live in Missisauga, both have cerebral palsy. According to CBC News, the Peel Children’s Aid Society (CAS) has expressed concern about whether the couple can care for their son due to their disabilities and has said it will “remove William from their home unless his parents secure 24-hour care from an able-bodied person.”
Wilton uses a power wheelchair and has good upper body strength. Palisoc has some hand mobility issues but can change diapers, breastfeed and “do the necessities” to care for her son, says Ryan Machete, a program co-ordinator with the Coalition for Persons with Disabilities. His organization has provided funds for the services since William’s birth; a staff member has even used his own credit line to help pay the fees for a caregiver. Machete says that he is “not convinced” a round-the-clock staffer, who would cost $2,000 a week, is needed.
Machete did note that, as William gets older, his parents may need more support: ““I think that maybe when William grows up to be six years old and hurts his knee and needs his mom to pick him up, and he’s 60, 70 pounds, maybe that might be a little bit more difficult for her to do.”
Even before William was born, CAS workers had expressed concerns that Palisoc and Wilton would not be able to take care of their son, says CTV. The couple currently receive a few hours of care from support workers through an organization called AbleLiving; they only need a few more hours to care for William, says Linda Soulliere, also of the Coalition for Persons with Disabilities
While noting that she and Wilton do need assistance, Palisoc emphasized her fear about having William taken from them, as she said to CBC News:
“We know that we need help, but we know that we are the best thing for our boy right now. We both wanted to be parents and now we are, and we don’t want do give anyone control of our family.”
The CAS is to meet with Palisoc and Wilton on Friday to try to figure out an arrangement.
As Soulliere says to CTV, “attitudes and perceptions and a lot of misunderstanding about what cerebral palsy” are some of the reasons that CAS does not think Palisoc and Wilton can care for William. Both Palisoc’s and Wilton’s speech is affected; as Soulliere notes, “it’s much easier for people to assume their cognitive skills are affected, but that’s not the case.” Soulliere also points out that Palisoc and Wilton “deserve the chance to have some privacy,” rather than having an attendant always present in their residence.
Palisoc and Wilton simply want to take care of their son on their own terms and should not be denied the right to do so. Certainly, it is not right for William to be removed from parents who love and who are caring for him.
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Photo by jon ovington