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  1. #1
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    WA - Children found locked behind "cage-like" door/2 arrested

    I'll be very interested as to how this story plays out. I'm pleased the children are being evaluated. Something is very wrong here. Any sort of restraint or lock MUST be used with the full knowledge and support of the special services which work with the children. MUST.


    http://www.oregonlive.com/clark-coun...e_bedroom.html

    4 boys removed from Vancouver home after 2 were found locked behind 'cagelike' bedroom door

    "Child Protective Services has taken custody of four boys found in a Vancouver [WA] apartment, including two boys who were wearing diapers and locked behind a "cage-like" door...."

    and

    "An officer found two of the children, aged 5 and 7, locked in a bedroom where someone had replaced the door with locked barred door that opened inward and could only be opened from the outside. The other two kids, aged 11 months and 9, were not confined in this room.

    Based on conditions in the apartment, Kapp said, police arrested 26-year-old Alayna M. Higdon, mother of the baby and oldest child, and her partner, John C. Eckhart, 30, who is the father of all but the 9-year-old boy.

  2. #2
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    Oct 2010
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    WOW, hope we hear more about this....

  3. #3
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    Nov 2010
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    Of course it seems like the locked up kids, were the stepchildren of the mother. Why do woman marry/date men with children whom they will not accept or love as their own?? I will never understand!!

  4. #4
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    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110415/...JlbW90aGVyc3Vy

    Ore. mother surprised to hear 2 sons kept caged

    "An Oregon mother said Thursday she was shocked to learn that the father of her two autistic sons has been accused of mistreating the boys by locking them in a darkened room. JB [EBM] of Tillamook said she'll try to regain custody of the boys she left with John Eckhart, who was arrested along with his current girlfriend on charges of unlawful imprisonment and mistreatment.

    Police said the boys — ages 5 and 7 — were found Tuesday in a Vancouver, Wash., apartment in a room whose door had been replaced by a makeshift, slatted barrier...."

    and

    "...Law enforcement officers notified child welfare workers in February that the family in the apartment was "overwhelmed," Department of Social and Health Services spokeswoman Sherry Hill said Thursday. But during a follow-up contact, the family declined an offer of services...."

    and

    "...JB said Thursday she left Eckhart — they hadn't married — because he was controlling and had a drug problem, but she gave up the children because she didn't want to disrupt their schooling and routines. "If I had known, I would have taken the boys," she said. "I felt at the time I was doing what was in their best interest....."

    more at link


    I have lots of questions. First off why would a mother leave two challenged and challenging children with a controlling man with a drug problem? And what schooling or routine? Something tells me that DHS isn't going to move swiftly to place the children with their mother. After all, she hadn't seen them in over a year...and lived only 75 miles away.

    I wonder why the family refused services. Possibly, they didn't want help coming in if there were drugs in the house. Children with autism who are non-verbal qualify for all sorts of services, including early intervention and special education. Even in these tight budget days, this family could have received help from their local Developmental Disabilities agency--not what I consider adequate, but something. Children with no sense of danger can be very very challenging to care for and the rules about safety are complex. As I said.....lots of questions.

    I hope these little guys get placed in a home where they can be more lovingly raised and tended to.

  5. #5
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    Apr 2009
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    My brother's son is severely autistic. They have to take a lot of precautions with him. If they don't lock up the cupboards and refridgerator he will go in there and eat all the food until he is sick. There are times, I am sure, that he must be locked in his room for his own safety. If he were to wake up before them he could do a lot of damage to himself and the house. He seems to not feel any pain. He will harm himself and not react. He is totally non verbal and doesn't understand what you tell him. He is in a special school and works with professionals so I am sure that every step they have taken has been planned out with all involved. It is a heartbreaking situation. He is in his 20s now.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Missizzy View Post
    First off why would a mother leave two challenged and challenging children with a controlling man with a drug problem? And what schooling or routine?
    There's two million dollar questions.

    Myspace of Alayna Higdon is private, but the name says alot.

    "Busy Mommy"


    http://www.myspace.com/laynersmarie

  7. #7
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    A bit more spin, excuse me, info:

    http://www.oregonlive.com/clark-coun...p_custody.html


    I don't know what to think. I'm bothered that the boys weren't in school and special programs. They could benefit from speech therapy, sensory therapy, social training. Very likely they can be toilet trained and trained to accept clothing. I'm bothered that they're identities are now known. There's a whole bunch of us here on WS who know just how overwhelming these disabilities are. It is a sad fact of life that some children have to be in locked beds and have all sorts of alarms and devises geared for safety throughout their home. It's a 24 hour job and not one that a man who might have a drug problem could deal with, I don't think. I've never been quick to judge those who cannot raise a child with this level of disability. It does no one any favors to do it if you are going to be resentful and miserable.

    They're lovely children (kids with autism often are) and I just know in my heart that they can be raised with far more decency and respect and some joy than they are receiving now. A parent who has a child with a disability simply must be willing to be humble and accept all professional help. How I'd like to know how these boys are doing in 6 months time with better care.

  8. #8
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    I take issue with the choice of wording in this headline. The situation is serious enough without sensationalizing it. With appropriate support and oversight, no doubt a latching door would have been allowed in a case like this. I happen to know a boy with very severe autism who's kept safe by a number of locked areas of his house--all under the purview of DDS. Often children with spectrum disorders really benefit by no artificial light. I'm not defending this man's treatment of his children but we do have to keep in mind that even in the best case scenario, these little boys are not going to be able to live in a fun and fully furnished bedroom with run of the house. I don't envy the judge at all. An update:

    http://www.oregonlive.com/clark-coun..._children.html

    Superior Court hearing Thursday set to decide placement for caged children

    "A Superior Court hearing is scheduled next Thursday to decide temporary placement for two autistic boys who Vancouver police say were kept locked in a darkened room. The boys' father John Eckhart and his girlfriend Alayna Higdon were arrested Tuesday for investigation of second-degree criminal mistreatment and unlawful imprisonment.

    The boys' mother, Jona Bronson of Tillamook, has said she'll try to regain custody of the children -- ages 5 and 7...."

    and

    "....two of the four children who lived in the same apartment are with relatives and the other two are in foster care. All are under the supervision of Child Protective Services...."

    more at link

    Note: I'm assuming that the two special needs boys were placed in a DD foster home. Those parents' evaluation of the children in a different setting will be helpful to the judge. My guess, though, is that this will move slowly.

  9. #9
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    Jul 2004
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    Police: 2 Children Locked In Caged Room

    According to investigators, the responding patrol officers discovered two of the children were locked in a bedroom that had the door removed and replaced with a cage-like door, restricting access to the rest of the apartment.
    According to a police report viewed by Fox 12, the responding officer described finding the children with just a dirty mattress, no blankets, clothes or toys.
    http://www.kptv.com/news/27534565/detail.html

    Household seems to have consisted of two adults, and 4 kids.

    The two caged kids were his and allegedly autistic. She has one kid herself who wasn't caged and they had a kid together who wasn't caged.

  10. #10
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    Oct 2009
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    John Eckhart was not home when police showed up. When officers talked to him and asked why the children were in a cage, they say he responded, "What am I supposed to do, let them run around the house and get into everything? What kind of [expletive] parenting is that?'"

    http://www.kptv.com/news/27534565/detail.html

    I have no words, at least none that are allowed.

    The wife, the article goes on to say:

    Meanwhile, Fox 12 has learned Higdon studied elementary education at Clark College and volunteered at Harney Elementary School in Vancouver. The school district said she went through a background check, as do all employees and volunteers.

    again, I have no words that would not earn a TO


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  11. #11
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    Last edited by KateB; 06-06-2015 at 06:51 PM. Reason: repair url tag.

  12. #12
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    What really bothers me is that the gf Higdon was a worker at an elementray school and had some education in elementary education. This woman not only knew better, she should have been fully aware of all the resources available to assist with those autistic children. Her answer was to assist the father in caging them in a room, turning down resources and assistance and leaving them there in filth with urine soaked diapers, no blankets, toys and with only a filthy mattress.

    My ten year old knows to children better than this, this suposedly educated woman certainly should have.

    Meanwhile, Fox 12 has learned Higdon studied elementary education at Clark College and volunteered at Harney Elementary School in Vancouver. The school district said she went through a background check, as do all employees and volunteers.

    http://www.kptv.com/news/27534565/detail.html

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  13. #13
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    Nov 2010
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    Iowa
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    affidavit available
    Kids were fed chips
    http://www.kgw.com/news/Affidvit-Cag...120297684.html

    Bio mother will attempt to regain custody
    "The boys' mother, Jona Bronson of Tillamook, Ore., has said she'll try to regain custody of the children -- ages 5 and 7."


    A second article.. another child in the home was supposed to be home schooled but told officers he wasn't.
    http://www.kgw.com/home/Vancouver-co...119785029.html

  14. #14
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    I'm still a bit confused as to who was home with the children....anybody?

    I have no doubt that the children would eat chips. But they should be in a special feeding program. One exists in Oregon....right down the road at OHSU--about 15 miles away. I'm sure that WA has some sort of equivalent program. All those services would be available through a public school setting.

    I'm really not understanding the plan here. Sure, the kids could qualify for SSI but that's not a whole lot of money. Sure, they could help the family qualify for more food stamps. Once again, is this worth it? I'm just not understanding the abject neglect and the motivation behind it. I know of a number of very special needs children who don't have the greatest homelife at all, who thrive at school. Why wouldn't this couple have availed themselves of every service possible? Especially given that the woman knows the educational system. Could the children have been sexually abused or used in child porn? The photos I saw, showed lovely children. I hate to think that but I can't come up with a viable alternative. Can anybody?

  15. #15
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    Jul 2009
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    An update:

    http://www.oregonlive.com/clark-coun...ot_guilty.html

    Parents accused of caging autistic children in Vancouver plead not guilty

    "The Vancouver man and woman accused of keeping two autistic boys locked behind what police called a "cage-like" door pleaded not guilty to unlawful imprisonment charges in Clark County Superior Court on this morning. The boys' father, 30-year-old John Eckhart, and his girlfriend, 26-year-old Alayna Higdon, were arrested after police said they found the boys being kept in a darkened room of a Vancouver apartment secured with "cage-like" doors and windows...."

    and

    "...The trial was set for Sept. 26...."

    and

    "....[Defense Attorney,Brian] Walker said Vancouver police had mischaracterized the room where the two boys were kept. "The facts that have been released barely scratch the surface," Walker said. "There's a lot to be revealed in time....."

    more at link



    Whichever way this goes, I'm very hopeful that this case will open up a dialogue on the very challenging task of keeping severely disabled children and adults safe...in a caring manner. Not an easy task at all and the general public really has no idea as to the challenges nor the laws.

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