Few can relate to the anguish of Martina and Rod McNeill – but all who know of their story feel something.
It’s impossible not to. Their story – their reality – is harrowing. And the system designed to help families such as theirs, is failing them.
Eight-year-old Alex lives with autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, severe sensory processing disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and infection-induced autoimmune condition PANDAS – or paediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder associated with streptococcus. He cannot be diagnosed with bipolar disorder at his age, and while his ADHD diagnosis has not been formally documented, his doctors have never seen a child so severely affected.
Alex is one of six children in the McNeill family – but the demands of caring for him around the clock means family life is no longer what it once was. There is no rest from the physical demands parenting Alex requires, but more so from the psychological.
For a family to be at breaking point, forcing them into a situation where they asked to relinquish care of their child, is unacceptable.
State and federal government departments are quick to shift responsibility when it comes to Alex – but they must find a better way forward for this family. And soon.
The family needs respite. They need more support worker hours. And they need a safe space in their family home for Alex – a calming place where he can grow, safely.
But while the family waits for answers, there must be more we can do as a community to help.
Time and again we have seen the central Victorian community rally to support those who need assistance – and if ever there was a family deserving of that, it is this one. How, central Victorians, can we help? It takes a village to raise a child.
Nicole Ferrie, editor
READ THE MCNEILL FAMILY STORY, HERE: Family’s plea to help keep son at home