It’s been almost a month since Ayn’s been home.
Ayn Van Dyk is a 9-year-old girl who was taken from her family in Abbotsford, British Columbia on June 16th by the Ministry of Children and Family Development. Her father, Derek Hoare, has been working literally round the clock to get her back. There is a very active Facebook, Help Bring little Autistic Girl back to her daddy. There is a letter writing campaign to get Ayn back (more information here as well as other information) and a campaign on Twitter (contact Justice4Ayn if you’d like to going). There’s a petition that has over 2000 signatures but needs more.
Amid everything, Derek kindly responded to some questions I asked. My questions and his answers (slightly edited for punctuation) are below. What stands out especially is how devoted Derek has been to Ayn for her whole life.
Please update us about what the situation is regarding Child Protective Services’s taking Ayn. Where is she now and what do you know about how she is doing?
Derek Hoare: After 18 days of no contact from the ministry as per Ayn’s well being or whereabouts, I received a call from a worker at the MCFD on Monday july 04, who informed me that Ayn had been crying for the 18 days, and would I please bring in a picture of myself to help calm here down. I agreed and went in to the ministry office where I spoke with the worker, to express my concerns over Ayn’s well being, her being medicated, access to Ayn, and receiving written reports as frequently as possible. I was informed at that time that Ayn was now out of the hospital and in a foster home. Our next meeting was on Wednesday july 6, where I was informed that Ayn was to be returned to the hospital for a much longer 6 week psych evaluation, there is a wait list, and it could take anywhere from 2-8 weeks for her to get that evaluation. She has been drugged against my explicit, reasoned and repeated wishes, with Risperdal, a drug with many known side effects some of which are fatal.
I was completely shocked to hear that Ayn is being given antipsychotic medications without her parent’s consent. My son takes medications but only as approved by my husband and me in frequent consultation with a neurologist, and with extreme scrutiny on our part. My son, like many autistic children, has very limited communication and cannot say how it feels to be given medications; we only know based on his behavior. How can a foster parent who has only recently met Ayn have any idea of the effects of the medications on her?
Could you tell us a little about Ayn: What she likes to do, things you’ve done to help her over the years?
Derek Hoare: Ayn is a beautiful, bright, little girl who likes: to bake, make crafts, paint, use the internet and photography. She adores listening to music which was a constant in the home; if she was here and awake, music was on. At a young age, Ayn received her diagnosis which we received privately after experiencing the wait times for Lyric (they were diagnosed at nearly the same time) [Lyric is Ayn's 10-year-old brother; they also have an 11-year-old brother.] We accessed funding and began a 40 hr per week intensive intervention program in the home, under the apt guidance of Michelle Auton in Lovaas therapy.
My involvement with Ayn as her primary caregiver over the years has been very hands on with a focus on, as much one on one or quality time as we can find, I have researched and trained myself in many techniques associated with Autism, receiving guidance from the many professionals we have been involved with over the years: from ABA, OT, speech and language and a child psychologist. When these professionals are brought into the home they very quickly make it clear they are not provided with the time to make an effective change in your autistic child’s life. They instead advise you as the parents to spend that time with them instead and learn these strategies yourself as you have the time to dedicate to your child, which is precisely what I did. I have run at a bear to chase it off from its threat to Ayn [and] taught her to read, write, and do math. We endeavour to go camping one on one each year (as i do with each child), her favourite place being by far Buntzen Lake and the surrounding mountains. I am a very involved parent with her school in terms of trying to help them understand and manage Ayn’s behaviour.
May I say, “very involved” is an understatement to describe Derek’s care of Ayn?
Derek is a single parent for his three children and, quite simply, he devotes every waking hour to them. After they’re asleep, he continues to work, researching and writing far into the night, then getting up early to start the whole process again. I was very struck by this statement he made about parenting:
Another thing to keep in mind is that as parents, though we receive no manual with our children, our abilities and understanding grow along side our children. As infants they cannot move and we are eased into their development with time, so it is not as if we have to face these challenges without a backdrop, each day our children gain in capability and awareness as so must we as parents.
Because we parents have been there with our children from the very beginning — and all the more so with a child with disabilities, who requires extra care — we know them best. That’s why the removal of Ayn from her household is all the more preposterous.
What’s going on right now for Derek is what I consider my worst nightmare. Just a few decades ago, having your child taken away was not at all unusual because the reigning “theory “of autism was that it was a psychiatric disorder caused by emotionally frigid parents who had failed to bond with their child. Thus, the way to “cure” a child from autism was (said the “experts”) to take the child from the home. These assumptions had devastating effects on families and parents.
The idea that “refrigerator parents” caused their children to become autistic has been completely discredited, and taking children from their parents has become a thing of the past — or so we’d like to think. The removal of Ayn from the household where she is cherished and loved is not only mind boggling, but deeply disturbing. Are we really back to the days when “social services” and “the state” could swoop and take our children away from us? When we parents have to take legal action to get our own children back?
As an article about Ayn on LifeSiteNews says, it could be over three months before Derek is able to argue his case about bringing Ayn home, due to waiting lists and court protocol. There, is, though, a “possibility that she could be returned to her family outside of the judicial process during a ‘case conference’ or meeting with lawyers and concerned parties.”
What happened to Ayn could stil happen to any autistic child, however loving and caring their household, however devoted their parents. Please help to bring Ayn back so the music can again be heard in her home.
Related Care2 Coverage
Photo of Ayn Van Dyk from a Facebook page set up by Derek Hoare.