This week a story has hit the world news about a teenager called Bethany who is being ‘imprisoned’ in a private health care facility in the UK because services have catastrophically failed her and her family. Bethany is diagnosed with PDA.
When I first came across the story, I felt I was unable to hear it. I knew that when I learned what this poor, poor young girl had gone through, it would break my heart and the pain of her suffering would be too hard to bear. I chose not to read it. I know that sounds awful doesn’t it, but it’s the truth. It took me a few days of battle in my own mind until I realized that turning away from painful truths to protect ones self was the very reason why this story has happened in the first place.
I have since educated myself on the story and I urge you to do the same. Bethany’s Dad, paints a chilling picture on a recent Facebook live chat interview with autism campaigner, Kevin Healey where he describes the walk to see his daughter as comparable to the film The silence of the lambs, where Clarice visits Hannibal Lecter in prison. I will leave you to make your own investigations into the story. My aim today is to open up more thoughts and discussion on why this should never ever happen again and what we can do to change perception and awareness of PDA.
We all have a duty to care for every single human being on this planet. We might not physically be able to do this. But we can in our hearts and prayers.
Bethany and her family’s unimaginable suffering, will not be in vain.
I recall the story of Alan Turing, whose genius helped us win the war, yet whose sexuality was illegal. This brilliant man chose chemical castration as an alternative to going to prison for being gay and he took his own life at the tender age of 41. Less than 60 years later, gay people can marry and the story of Alan Turing is truly horrifying. This story is tragic and, like Bethany’s, not isolated. Who feels sick to their stomachs that human beings can be treated like this? And yet here we are, no better for treating an autistic girl’s anxiety by putting her in a padded cell and not allowing physical contact with her parents for two years. Religious based views on how we should and should not live still run through how we live as a society today. It’s totally time we reviewed all human behavior and the reasons WHY practices such as isolation and human torture are still being used in hospitals across the world.
We have to ask ourselves the question, Where is the love?
PDA is going to bring us out of the dark ages and into an age of love. Bethany’s extreme suffering, just like many other people throughout history, will be key in expanding the human spirit. This does not make it any easier to swallow. This ignorance has to end and we do that by re thinking above and beyond the thoughts and beliefs that hold up systems and institutions. We have to tear down the walls of the prisons we allow ourselves to live in. We need to raise our game by changing our very natures and saying no, just as our PDA children are doing.
Bethany and those with PDA need love. Bethany and those with PDA need freedom. Bethany and those with PDA need respect. They need to be heard. They are here to show you how to be a better human being. They are a precious gift and they only suffer when you do not change and when you communicate in the wrong way. Anxiety is a bi product of extreme unrest. It looks like anger and can be violent, it’s this way because it has to be for you to take notice of what really lies beneath. Holding them back, antagonizing them, punishing them, triggering them, separating them, not loving them, will make them unwell. I know this sounds too simple to be true, but love and kindness is free. It is the only way.
Pathological Demand Avoidance syndrome cannot be explained away in a few lines. I’ve written hundreds of posts trying to explain it and its never enough. It’s an intricate message which we have to uncover to reveal the beauty beneath the behaviors. It’s a story which, one day soon will reveal it’s true message. Be part of that beauty, not part of the pain. Be proud to be on the forefront of a great new chapter of change, not the evil that continues to allow innocent people to suffer beyond comprehension.
I dedicate this post to the bravery of this truly remarkable family and I will watch from my home in New Zealand, how my home country moves forward in the coming days and weeks.