February 18, 2008

Child Placed in Foster Care Because State Does Not Approve of Parents Treatment For Autism

This makes me absolutely insane.

And it should make every autism parent and adult with autism furious too.

Nate Tseglin was removed from his home not for abuse or neglect, but because the state wanted him drugged and his parents didn't.

I have no idea who to contact about advocating for this family, but stay tuned for information.

Child Abuse by the Government
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Government rips an autistic boy from his home because it prefers a different treatment than the one offered by the parents.
Sr. editorial writer and columnist
The Orange County Register

What kind of society rips a 17-year-old autistic boy from his loving home and places him in a state-run mental institution, where he is given heavy doses of drugs, kept physically restrained, kept away from his family, deprived of books and other mental stimulation and is left alone to rot?

Certainly not a free or humane one.

Yet that's exactly what has happened to Nate Tseglin, after a teacher called Child Protective Services, the county agency charged with protecting children from many forms of abuse and given power to remove children from their family homes in certain circumstances. The teacher reported seeing self-inflicted scratches on Nate's body and complained about the doctor-approved arm restraints his parents used to keep Nate from hurting himself. Nate remains in Fairview Developmental Center (formerly Fairview State Hospital) in Costa Mesa, labeled a danger to himself and others, while his parents fight a lonely battle to bring their son back home.

Isn't there anyone out there who can help them?

After the complaint, social workers intervened and decided that the judgment of a psychologist who examined Nate's records but never even met the boy trumped a lifetime of treatment and experiences by his parents, Ilya and Riva Tseglin. Without prior notice, "the San Diego Health and Human Services agency social worker, with the aid of law enforcement, forcibly removed a struggling and terrified autistic boy … from his home, while his mother and father, who are Russian Jewish immigrants, and Nate's younger brother stood by helplessly," according to the complaint the parents, who have since moved to Irvine to be near Nate, filed with the court.

The forced removal came after the Tseglins came to loggerheads with the government over Nate's proper treatment. The parents are opposed to the use of psychotropic drugs and argue that Nate has had strong negative reactions to them. They point to success they've had with an alternative, holistic approach that focuses on diet and psychiatric counseling. The government disagreed, so it took the boy away from home and initially placed him in a group home – where he had the same negative reaction to the drugs that his parents predicted would happen.

Of course, once social workers are involved in a family, they are reluctant to relinquish their power – something I've found in every Child Protective Services case I've written about. And even though the court determined "the evidence is clear that the parents have always stood by and tried to help their son," the court sided with the government. That's another common theme from these closed family-court proceedings – the social workers' words are taken as gospel, and the parents are treated like enemies and given little chance to defend themselves.

The details are complicated and discouraging. But, essentially, the parents were cut out of any decision-making regarding their son. They were given only short visits with him. After he ran away from the group home, the government transferred Nate to a mental hospital. The Tseglins say the drugs the hospital gave Nate caused him to have a "grand mal" seizure, and his health has continued to deteriorate while he languishes in a government mental facility. When they visited him over the summer, they found his face swollen. He faded in and out of consciousness and was suffering from convulsions. They believe he has been beaten and are worried about sexual abuse, given that he is housed with the criminally insane.

The Tseglins claim Child Protective Services has told them they have the "wrong set of beliefs" and even threatened to force them to undergo court-ordered psychological evaluation. The agency at one point suspended the parents' visitations as a way "to assist them in coming to grips regarding their son." The Tseglins, as former citizens of the Soviet Union, have good reason to be fearful of the authorities. But they tell me that they experienced nothing of this sort in the former communist nation. If their descriptions are correct, then the Soviets weren't the only ones who know how to create a totalitarian bureaucracy.

The family's legal argument is persuasive:

"Riva and her husband have cared for Nate, in their home, for his entire life, until he was dragged kicking and screaming away from his parents. … The court found that it was very impressive that the parents 'were able to maintain Nate in the home for the better part of a decade when he was having some severe behavioral difficulties.' … The court found further that when the parents put Nate on a 'more holistic approach' and ignored the professional opinions, that 'for a period of time, Nate responded very well to that.' Even though Nate subsequently deteriorated, the court found that he fared no differently using the more traditional medical approach.' …

"In short, this case turns on value judgments, such as whether it is preferable for Nate to be maintained in his own home, subject to occasional physical restraint, surrounded by the love and devotion of his parents and brother, or whether Nate should be placed in a locked facility, subject to occasional physical restraint and constant chemical restraint, surrounded by strangers and a burden to the California taxpayer. … The real issue in this case is that the agency and some medical personnel believe their opinions regarding Nate's treatment are better than the parents' choices, and have sought the judicial intervention to override the parents' decisions regarding their son."

In a free society, individuals and families get to make those judgments and decisions. As the Tseglins argue, "Riva has a right to raise her child, Nate, free from government interference, as long as he is not at risk of physical, sexual or emotional abuse, neglect or exploitation."

Sure, the state can and does intervene when parents are accused of abusing or neglecting their children. There are many problems and injustices even in those cases, but at least it's understandable when the government intervenes to protect a potentially threatened child. But in this case, the state is simply saying that it knows best, that no matter how diligently a boy's parents have worked to provide the best-possible care for him, that officials get the final say. And the government's choice of mandatory incarceration seems harsh and cruel, which shouldn't surprise anyone, given the basic nature of government.

At last check, autism is not a crime. It's time to free Nate Tseglin and return him to the love and care of his parents.

Contact the writer: sgreenhut@ocregister.com or 714-796-7823

UPDATE: The Autistic Bitch from Hell has a really good commentary on the state of things the psychiatric profession. Among her points, that "Psychiatry, unlike other types of substance use, always involves coercion, whether directly or indirectly".

The only contention I have with her post is the use of the word 'always' in this statement. There are cases of people who have real trouble functioning; and genuinely both need and want psychotropic medication to be functional. But I fear that is a much smaller subset of the drug taking population than we think it is, and it is getting smaller.

[UPDATE: AFBH left this in my comments section below:
"To clarify, I used the word "always" because the system itself is structured in a coercive way... the medical system generally does not give these people enough information to make an informed decision."

I think that she has made her case here and her use of the word "always" is likely justified considering that true informed consent does not exist.]

IMHO, Psychotropic drugs should be a last resort. And for our autistic loved ones, a VERY last resort. They do not heal our kids physical problems and usually make them worse. Our service to them should be to heal, not to drug them into compliance.

The AAP, after 30 years has finally recognized that the Feingold Diet (basically just simply taking dies and preservatives out of kids "food", and having them eat actual food) works for kids with AHDH. But why do something simple like have kids eat healthy when an entire industry can be built around Ritalin instead?! I have two ADD friends that still, in their late 30's, have loads of emotional baggage from teachers and parents who were frustrated with them, and one of them has been on and off Ritalin up until mid 20's.

How much does it suck that all of the drama in their lives over their 'learning disability' may be nothing more than an intolerance to Red Dye #40?

Anyway... read her post. For two people who are supposed to be on the opposite side of the 'cure/not to cure' debate, I find that I agree with ABFH pretty often.


~Miss Nelson said...

This saddens me. I can't believe they would take a child out of the home. I wonder if there is more information out there that we do not know about. This just makes me sick that the state and "professionals" can come in and do this to a family. And the child gets caught in the middle every time.

Moi ;) said...

Unbelievable. But then, I believe it. Government Grunt workers are the worst.

Has anyone alerted the television media?

Dadof6Autistickids said...

The story is exactly about what does happens. When we were in court the CPS people were speaking "the gospel". We were not able to say ANYTHING in our own defence. We were lucky (and blessed by God) that our children, all six, were ONLY taken away for 2 weeks. I really feel for this family. What helped us was an out pouring of support from our friends at church and the neighborhood. Maybe that will help here too. Here is the link to our story: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,660226195,00.html

Sally said...

Child Protective Services are trafficking in children for monetary gain, PERIOD! Nothing else! They care nothing about the welfare of children and families. They get incentives and bonuses from OUR social security money under SS Title IV. This agency is corrupt to the core and a whole industry has grown up around it including family courts, lawyers, judges, psychiatrists, doctors, counseling groups, etc.

They remove children on anonymous phone calls with no proof of wrongdoing and put innocent parents through emotional hell and financial ruin. The emotional trauma they are putting the children through is destroying their lives.

There are MANY groups on yahoo fighting this atrocity. The second annual rally will be held this year in DC. DCRALLY2008.com Stand up and be heard!

I can be contacted at saludevil@aol.com

abfh said...

To clarify, I used the word "always" because the system itself is structured in a coercive way. Although there are indeed some people who voluntarily take psychiatric drugs and find them helpful, the medical system generally does not give these people enough information to make an informed decision. There are often alternatives that can be helpful, as you mention; but the doctors often go straight to writing a prescription without considering whether a change in diet, a less stressful environment, learning how to meditate, etc., might do just as much good.

And yes, it's unfortunate that the word "cure" has been used to split people into opposing war-camps even though they often agree on many points. Bev at Asperger Square 8 wrote an excellent post on this issue a few months ago.

Ginger said...


I stand corrected.

"To clarify, I used the word "always" because the system itself is structured in a coercive way... the medical system generally does not give these people enough information to make an informed decision."

Reading your clarifying comments, I think if we go with the idea that 'informed consent' very rarely exists, if it exists at all, you may be in fact be completely justified in your use of the word "always".

I think that it would be extremely difficult to make the case that 'informed consent' does exist. I am STILL trying to inform myself on shots that I gave my newborn preemie in 2000.

I asked the (very young and arrogant) pediatrician if there was mercury in the vaccines that he was giving my son, who was still two weeks shy of his due date. The AAP announcement that there might be too much Hg in shots and it should be removed came out right before I got pregnant. I was in no way an 'anti-vaxxer' at the time and was just checking to make sure they had gotten it all out.

He was insulted at the question, saying, "We don't use mercury in vaccines any more". You would have thought I asked him if he was going to use leeches on my baby and his reaction made me feel embarrassed that I had even asked the question. I think I even apologized for asking it. I believed him and consented.

But the man had flat out lied! He walked out of the room and sent in the nurse who administered a full dose mercury vaccine! I didn't even know it for four years until I I looked up the lot numbers of all my kids shots.

And that is my favorite experience with 'informed consent'.

Lack of complete information on damaging side effects of medications is denying informed consent and is coercion.

... and most of the products product put out by pharma are not even tested properly. The Hep B shot that I allowed Chandler to have in 2002, after which he had unexplained fevers and crying for three months, and bowel problems for two years until I changed his diet, was such a case. When I went back and read the safety information on the package insert i found that the safety study that declared the vaccine safe for children only followed them for THREE DAYS! Chandler's symptoms didn't set in until day three.

(I know that your emphasis is on Psychopharmaceuticals and mine is on vaccines, but both are really just putting a bolus dose of chemicals into a human in the hope of achieving one specific beneficial outcome, at the expense of all the other not so beneficial [and even horribly destructive] outcomes. It is just easier to argue the beneficial side of the vaccines than it is the psychointeractive drugs, but ultimately it is the same argument.)

I will amend my comments to reflect that you have made your case.

... and of course you are right about changing diet and environment before drugging (schools go straight to recommending drugging rather than first asking the simple questions like, "is your child getting enough sleep"?)

The concept of the 'least restrictive environment' for people who are in state care is mandated by law, so where is the correlary medical rule?

I have not written about it yet, but Nate last week was put on a very strong drug (Geodon), that is approved for serious mental illenss (Agitation associated with Schizophrenia, Manic Bipolar Disorder, Mixed Bipolar I Disorder, Schizophrenia) with a history of horrible side effects (Akathisia, Constipation, Diarrhea, Dizziness, Drowsy, Dyspepsia, Extrapyramidal Disease, General Weakness, Nausea, Sialorrhea, Skin Rash, Weight Gain,
Anorexia, Chest Pain, Headache Disorder, Hypertonia, Myalgia, Orthostatic Hypotension, Pruritus of Skin, Rhinitis, Tachyarrhythmia, Tremors, Upper Respiratory Infection, Visual Changes, Xerostomia, Angioedema, Arthralgia, Conduction Disorder of the Heart, Cough, Depression, Diabetes Mellitus, Dysphagia, Facial Edema, Fainting, Fungal Infection of Skin, Galactorrhea not associated with Childbirth, Hyperglycemia, Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome, Priapism, Prolonged QT Interval, Tongue Swelling, Tonic Clonic Seizure, Torsades de Pointes, Urticaria, Vomiting)
because Fairview decided he needed them to sleep.

Did they first try putting him on melatonin?

Because that is the chemical that the body produces to properly regulate sleep.

Unknown said...

All I can do is pray that God gives you your son back, and that your son can heal. Your family can heal from this, and your suffering is taken away. It doesn't make any sense why the government would want to spend tax payer money having these kids drugged, abused, and rotting in institutions. They have already proved they are not better parents when they drug kids instead of giving them therapy, and needed medical attention. Animals are treated better in the justice system.