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Mother of autistic child vents her frustration
‘I feel like killing him’
BY DONNA HUSSEY-WHYTE Sunday Observer reporter [email protected]
Sunday, April 21, 2013

ROSA-LEE Davidson, 34, can be seen in Montego Bay square begging six days per week with her two sons — aged two and 16 years — by her side.
But being on the street begging is not what Davidson had envisioned for her life, as she dreamt of owning her own business … a dream she feels may now be lost to her forever.
Rosa-Lee Davidson, 34, and her 16-year-old autistic son Christopher Clarke in Montego Bay where she earns a living by begging to support her son as she cannot leave him alone if she has a job. (PHOTO: LIONEL ROOKWOOD)
But for now, a tin pan and prayer are all she has to work with, after being forced on the streets to support her 16-year-old autistic son who is also stricken with severe bouts of epilepsy.
“It hard man, it hard. Sometimes mi feel fi kill him myself, but mi nuh want go a prison,” Davidson told the Jamaica Observer last week. “Sometimes mi frustrated. Sometimes mi feel fi lef him and just make them kill him in a Bay (Montego Bay) because mi tired of it! To deal with this no easy you know, lady, and fi know seh you have to go deal with it for the rest of your life?!”
Davidson explained that her son was diagnosed with autism — a lifelong brain disorder that affects the way a person communicates and relates to people around them — after many tests which began soon after she discovered that at age two, he was still not speaking.
Her son Christopher Clarke was seven when he was diagnosed as autistic at the psychiatric ward at Cornwall Regional Hospital.
“But the doctor didn’t tell me what is autism. Is somebody where mi used to live did have a ‘doctor dictionary’ and she look up the word autism and tell me say it mean the delay of everything,” Davidson said. “But mi still never know nothing ’bout autism. But mi stay with him and try with him. It was at the age of 10 that I took him out of diapers after I read a book on autism. To show you that I am working with him,” she said.
“Him can’t bathe himself. I have to bathe him. Even if him try, him can’t bathe himself good. And this is a big, young man. He is 16 years old,” she lamented, as she sat with her two boys in the square.
“Sometimes mi reach the stage where mi feel like mi would a kill him. Because sometimes him do some things that mi haffi just walk weh. But mi know is frustration why mi feel so still.”
She said that at age nine, her son attended the School of Hope, but had to stop last year June at age 15 because of financial difficulties.
“Mi can’t manage to send him because it cost me to send him to school and at that time mi have this one (two-year-old son) too.”
Davidson said that the boy’s father was part of his life up to age nine when he moved out of the house. She said that it was a little easier when he was there, as they would take turns working.
“Now I can’t work because of him, because everywhere I go I have to take him with me. I cannot leave him alone. It’s hard to even pick up part-time work. One lady created a position for me once as a office helper and I did a little filing too, but she didn’t really want anybody she just create the position for me. But since that I have not worked.”
She said that a number of times Christopher behaved so aggressively that he would hurt himself and destroy other persons’ property.
“I can’t let him out of my sight at all. Him will bang on people’s vehicles, and stuff like that, when he gets agitated.
Even November last year him lick COK (City of Kingston Co-operative Credit Union) glass and bruk it, and mash up him hand. See it there,” she said lifting the boys’ hand to reveal a large mark left from a cut on his left arm. “Him end up getting how much stitches down the hospital.”
Fortunately for her, she said, they didn’t press charges because they knew he was sick and that she couldn’t afford to pay for the damage.
“If he is here now and him want something and him see you with you food, him just grab it and run. And him do this with anybody at all,” she said. “If him feel to say him want something and mi don’t have it to give him, or him feel that I am taking too long to move, or if him see you with something and him head tell him seh him fi tek it, him just take it from you and start to eat or him run.”
As a result, he has been hit by persons who do not understand that he cannot help himself.
Davidson said that three months ago a vehicle owner started choking her son after he banged on his vehicle. When she tried to explain, he attempted to choke her also. This resulted in the police getting involved.
“Right now I feel alone as a mother, because even this morning an incident occurred — like him head take him and him go lick a child. But the child that him lick that mother have a child like him so she never really say anything to me,” the distraught mother said. “And the older he gets the harder it gets.”
The mother of two said she has sought intervention from the Government time and again, but nothing has come of it.
“Police took him to CDA (Child Development Agency) and they say is best me keep him. And all I was telling them to take him they say why mi want to put mi burden on people. But mi can’t work because of him. They say they not taking anybody pickney and is best mi keep him myself,” she said. “And mi can’t fight nuh body to help me if they don’t want to help me. Because they say is one little home they have and is West Haven (Hanover) and if nobody don’t dead from it, him can’t get in. And it really full up for true because me do my background check myself.”
Davidson said that she has been trying since 2005 to get her son in an institution, but nothing has happened.
“One doctor told me the only way they (Government) take him is if me dead and him don’t have any family to take him,” she said.
“One time I went up to CDA and a lady said that it costs the State $70,000 to take care of one child for the month and Government did not have any money,” she said.
“Sometimes mi frustrated you know, lady, because mi don’t have it to give him. Sometimes mi don’t have anything to give him to eat.”
But she said that begging ensured that he eats before she takes him on the street in the morning, feeds him sometimes on the street and when he gets home. There are even times when he wakes up at night and gets agitated because he wants something to eat.
“Sometime mi all have to send him out a door at night until him calm down,” she said. “But sometimes mi only can afford to feed him one time for the day. Right now mi would need stuff for him and mi cannot buy them. Him need a fan and I cannot buy it. I need a bed for him and I cannot buy it. Him need a chest of drawers to pack up him clothes in and mi cannot buy it. Mi even need a clothes basket and mi can’t buy even that right now,” she said.
Davidson said that turning to relatives for help has not been fruitful as they have made it clear to her that everyone has their own problems to deal with.
She said that it cost approximately $7,000 to deal with basic necessities for the three of them weekly.
Begging on the street sometimes earns her $500, while contributions from friends could push it up to $3,000 per day.
“But I would really like to come off the street because the street is not something that me used to,” Davidson said. “Mi need monetary contribution because I really need to come off the street.”
Davidson said that she would love to rent a shop to start a business selling foodstuff and clothes.
This, she said, would give her better control of her son while she works. Now she has to travel with a change of clothing for her 16-year-old every day as he vomits on himself regularly.
“I have to change his clothes before he goes into a taxi to go home. And some taxis not taking us home because people just segregate themselves from us. (They) say we are different people. You know Jamaicans already. Stigma attached to everything. If it don’t knock on them back door they don’t business.”
She said that despite her frustration, she loves her son.
“I don’t really want to give him up you know, but I don’t really have a choice. I just want to go work because all my life revolves around him. Mi can’t go anywhere without him. If I’m going anywhere I have to carry him so mi just don’t have a life. Is just him. And mi feel like the Government should do more,” she said.
“If they claim that it costs the State $70,000, why they can’t give me half of the $70,000 so I can take care of him? Most people that I know with children like these have money. It look like me a di worse one. Mi nuh have nuh money and mi nuh have nobody. Mi nuh have it easy. Trust me,” the distraught mother said.

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