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Victim with autism severely injured in treatment center

The Dallas Morning News recently reported on an incident involving an individual with autism who suffered serious facial and mouth injuries at a local treatment center. According to the article, an employee said she had observed another worker kick the patient, causing him to lose several teeth.

Authorities have charged a 49-year-old staff member and the facility has suspended him during the investigation. The accused reportedly said that the victim had injured himself running into a door, but investigators found no blood there and the teeth were missing.

Investigation can be difficult

The disabled individual cannot tell authorities what happened because he cannot speak. Unfortunately, this is common when individuals with cognitive disabilities, including elderly people with Alzheimer’s or other kinds of dementia, are either nonverbal or without the intellectual ability to describe or comprehend abusive experiences. This is a challenging problem for family members and loved ones as well as facility management, social workers and law enforcement.

At our law firm, we advise clients who are concerned about finding quality, safe residential, vocational, in-home and medical providers for vulnerable loved ones. We also counsel them about how to recognize signs of physical, sexual, financial, psychological or verbal abuse.

Anyone with concerns about the safety of vulnerable loved ones who are disabled or elderly should first call 911 if appropriate as well as secure medical treatment. An attorney can provide advice about options for legal remedies to address abuse or neglect.

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