The Commission for the Rights of People with a Disability is working to introduce a special card for those who have difficult behaviour because of their special needs, such as in the case of those who suffer from severe autism, so that they can skip the queue and be served with less difficulty. This is the problem faced every day by Keith Cassar Jackson and his family, a father who described to TVM the great challenges they face because their daughter has autism.
“As soon as she sees people, it is already a problem. But to have to wait in a queue is impossible as she cannot wait. Her condition demands that everything is done now. Even to eat, it has to be now. There is no waiting. Her mind cannot accept the concept of waiting.”
This is the reality which his daughter has to live with.
“Even when we ask her what she feels. It’s pain. That is her word. It’s pain,” says Keith.
He said that they have ended up going to private hospitals rather than Mater Dei to avoid having his daughter going through an ordeal each time. “We only use private health care. We do not make any appointments, in other words it is an expense as you can imagine.”
She even finds it difficult to sit still. “If she is angry and feels anxious, she is not going to tell you I’m getting anxious. She just says I’m angry, I’m angry and she flips. There is no point in shouting with her. The more you shout, the more she gets out of control and it is more painful for her at the same time,” her father explains.
For children with autism, routine is crucial.
Keith Cassar Jackson said, “If we are planning to go out somewhere, we have to let her know two or three days before that we are going. She starts counting the days. Then she comes up to us and says, when are we going there?”
Although she often disrupts her playtime, her sister Mikaya’ does everything for her sister.
“I have some toys and I tell her, let us play together so that I calm her down.”
In comments to TVM, the Commissioner for the Rights of People with a Disability, Oliver Scicluna said that the Commission is considering issuing a special card for those who have conditions such as this.
“This is something that we need to start working on and make sure it comes into effect. If we can facilitate the lives of people so that they do not have to wait in a queue, it has to be done in a fair way and not just for frivolous reasons, that is why we are saying it needs to be issued specifically for certain people only.”
Mr Cassar Jackson is hoping that people like his daughter will be able to have this service.
“We can finally begin to live like others. It is not just for me but for the parents and families who are going through this because it is very important,” he said.
According to the budget measures, severe cases of autism will be entitled to social benefits, which to date they had not been entitled to.