By Kaitlyn Clark
The Haldimand Press
HALDIMAND—Maureen Francella loves her son, Steven Bishop. She describes him as “very loving, happy, energetic, and social”. However, she fears there is an “imminent risk of Steven killing himself unintentionally through self-injury” because Bishop’s autism leads him to have severe outbursts. As his outbursts have become more extreme, Francella is desperately trying to find a suitable care home, but she is looking at a minimum two-year wait.
Diagnosed with autism at age 3, Bishop began having bigger outbursts at age 23 when he was living in a group home in Cayuga during the week and spending weekends with his family in Selkirk, where they lived for 15 years. After five years in Cayuga, Francella was forced to bring Bishop home full-time because of his outbursts, which occurred once every few months. Now 35, Bishop functions at a kindergarten age. He had a “major incident” in December 2017 that “resulted in extensive self-injury and caused so much property damage that our family had to relocate in order for our home to be repaired,” said Francella. “Over the next 10 months until September 2018, Steven had more than 40 similar incidents.”
Unable to find enough crisis support, the family ultimately decided to admit Bishop to St. Joseph’s psychiatric emergency room on September 14, where “he spent the next four days in a deplorable, dirty room without a pillow, blanket, chair or possibility of taking a shower,” said Francella. He was transferred to the West 5th Mental Health Facility on September 18, where he remains.