Life taken away

Dear Editor:

Hi, my name is Charlie Simmons. I am a [pervasive] developmentally-delayed non-verbal autistic individual with obsessive compulsive behaviour.

I have attended Community Living in Harriston for 13 years.  It has been the best time of my life.

I am a 34-year-old man and have lived with my mom and siblings all my life. I got to watch my sisters and brother have friends come visit. I have never had any friends until I started attending the centre.

My life had meaning while attending the centre; a reason to get up in the morning. Now, my life has no meaning. I am not able to leave the house by myself and my mom works a lot to keep a roof over our heads, food in our bellies, and clothes on our backs.

She does not have a lot of time for other stuff like taking me places or for walks around town. There is not much else to do in Harriston. Since the shut down in March, I have gone through depression and anxiety and I am lonely and missing my friends.

They say we are segregated when we are together at the centre. But really we are a group of people that love being with each other and doing things together like swimming, dancing, bowling, playing pool, scrapbooking, and much more (Christmas parties, Halloween parties).

I have had my birthday party every year for the last 13 years at the centre with my friends. I do not understand why we are not allowed to be together. I don’t want one-on-one service. I have had that my whole young life. I want to be one of the group. It’s much more fun to be with people and peers. We accept each other the way we are.

Seems to me no one cares how I feel about the company changing things on us. Where do my rights come into these decisions that are being made for me? I have a voice – it’s my mom’s voice. At the centre, they know me so well and understand me, and yes, really like me too.

My days now consist of laying in my bed, watching TV or watching out the window while the world goes by. I am sad a lot of days and very lonely. I would really like for the centre to please give me back my life that they have taken away from me and my friends.

It’s not fair to us at all.

Charlie Simmons,