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Father of teen with autism empathizes with parents of rescued boy

September 14, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
At first glance, Ebi Mehrabiani may seem like any other teenager being dropped off at home after school.

But Mehrabiani is no ordinary teen. He's an 18 year old with severe autism.

Hussein Mehrabiani says his son is what some experts call a runner. He likes to run away from home.

"We put four door locks and deadbolts at the entrance door. We have gates with locks. We have a high fence for the swimming pool. We try to avoid it, but it's very challenging, too," the father said. "His escapes are very innocent. He goes maybe to steal a candy or he doesn't like my swimming pool. He might go to the neighbor's swimming pool."

Mehrabiani says being a parent to a child with autism brings challenges no one would ever imagine. Keeping children from endangering themselves is top priority.

Mehrabiani says that's why he empathizes with the parents of Joshua Robb, the 8-year-old boy with severe autism who had to be rescued after running away from school.

The boy had been removed from his parent's home by Child Protective Services three weeks before after someone reported seeing his parents restraining him. The boy's parents believe he escaped to find them.

Psychologist Dr. Brandt Chamberlain says there is no easy answer for parents these days especially when resources have been affected by budget cuts, but he says restraining a child with autism has to be done with extreme care and awareness of the child's needs.

"The main thing is for the child to feel calm and safe and part of that is setting limits for the child," Chamberlain said. "This can be behavioral limits, they also sometimes have to be physical limits. What those limits consist of depends on the child, the family, but the most important thing is how that limit is applied, if it's applied in a way that it's humane and where the child feels cared for."

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