COLUMBUS – The State of Ohio and the Department of Developmental Disabilities are facing a federal lawsuit after a woman says state workers are abusing her autistic son.
Myra Tanksley filed the suit last month on behalf of her son Marquis Tanksley, 19, who a probate court judge placed at the Columbus Departmental Center since last November. That’s after Marquis ran from his apartment and health care worker, ran naked through a neighboring church playground and was arrested by police. A municipal court judge blamed the health care aide for the charges for not taking better care of Marquis. Now Myra Tanksley says his care is even worse.
“I know society doesn’t know about autism but there’s a whole lot of professions that don’t know about it,” said Myra Tanksley to ABC6/FOX28. “He’s in a facility that doesn’t have fit staff, they’re untrained, they’re abusive.”
According to the suit, state workers have “seized, hit and assault Marquis Tanksley” and “staff has little training regarding autistic adults.”
Administration at the Columbus center denied the federal violations and said autism is not new to the center, specialists for autism are available when needed and staff reports any time they restrain a resident for internal review.
The Attorney General said he does not comment on pending litigation.
Tanksley’s attorney is based in Akron, has an autistic child herself and is now seeking experts on autism for the case to use in court.
Sadly, stories like this are more and more common. Reports of autistic children in schools being abused, bullied, neglected, restrained, and put in seclusion are regularly in the news. Experts tell us that 80 percent of autistic Americans are under the age of 18. As this generation of disabled children ages into adulthood, we can expect to hear about more incidents like this. Marquis’ mother tell us that society doesn’t understand autism and that’s the big problem. A once rare disorder is now so common that everyone knows someone with an autistic child and no health official can tell us why. We are just beginning to see the impact of a disabled generation of children aging out of school and society ill-equipped to care for them.
Anne Dachel, Media