Why throw the book at the disabled?
August 25, 2015
OPINION By MICHELLE CHRISTIAN
I have a son, Tyler, who was born with a rare syndrome, Prader-Willi. It is a medical condition along with severe cognitive delays. He is missing part of chromosome 15.
The most difficult part of PWS is uncontrollable hunger. The hypothalamus never receives the message of fullness. Combined with no ability to throw up, it is very dangerous for him to have access to food. He could rupture his stomach.
He is supervised at all times to prevent food seeking. We also lock up food at home. Dog food, trash food, fridge and freezer. I’ve added door and window alarms to prevent escape when Tyler searches for food. He has been age tested at 7 to 10-years-old mentally. He is 19-years-old.
Last November, Tyler was able to get out of the house at night, without his caretaker knowing. I reported him as an at risk missing person. We spent the entire night looking for him.
Tyler apparently took some food from a neighbor’s house and walked all night.
Tyler has been to county mental health before and another patient told him that if he doesn’t like the rules at home, he could just be homeless. He doesn’t have the cognitive skills to understand this is not the right thing to do.
He went through an unlocked sliding glass door of a home, and took a sleeping bag and other items so that he could be homeless. He was caught and arrested and spent a week in solitary at the county jail, because they did not know how to deal with his condition. Also, for his safety, due to his small size and the fact he would do anything for food. He also had no shower for the time.
We have been going to court once or twice a month since. The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office will not back down in charges even though the person that Tyler took the items from got everything back and they don’t wish to press charges. The prosecutor wants to charge him with a felony and give him a strike, meaning that, if he stole again, he could go away for 16 years.
Two doctors have taken the stand in a preliminary trial stating it would be fatal for him to be incarcerated. His trial is set for Oct. 6.
I have been trying to find a group home for him for years. They are very hard to find with only 19 homes in California for his specific syndrome. Each home takes only four adults. There are approximately 700 affected people in California. So, there is a serious shortage of appropriate housing.
We have found one in Riverside that wants to accept him and have set his move in date for next month, but not if he is having to go to court. This won’t be possible unless he pleads guilty to a felony. Tyler wants to move and it would be best for him. They can provide the structure and security he needs.
I am shocked and upset that the DA doesn’t want to listen to the doctors and specialists, who all agree that this is over kill. All of the items have been returned and the home owners do not want to press charges against Tyler. I feel this is a waste of tax payers money and also, cruel and unusual punishment for a young man with an obvious disability.
I am asking for the community to come together and help convince the DA to drop the charges. My son has a rare disability, he is not a criminal.
Michelle Christian grew up in Arroyo Grande and currently lives in Pismo Beach.
Get links to local news, like CCN on Facebook.