The two autistic boys in their 'cage'.

The two autistic boys in their ‘cage’.

Two autistic boys, 5 and 7, were found in their father and step-mother’s home, caged like animals.  According to reports, the conditions within the home were discovered by apartment workers doing a routine maintenance inspection.  They immediately contacted the authorities and Child Protective Services.

These two helpless little boys were living in inhumane conditions.  The door to the bedroom had been removed and was replaced with a cage type door.  The children were forced to stay in the room wearing only diapers, with one tiny, dirty mattress to share and nothing else, not toys or blankets, nothing.  The room remained dark and the children were not having their medical needs met.  They were not being fed food with much nutritional value.  The two boys were also never enrolled in school.  They were left to spend their days in the dark cage.  When officers approached the caged room where the boys were being kept, they would reach their arms towards the officers to try and hold on to them while making moaning noises.  The room had a strong order of urine about it and had feces on the walls, there was even hand prints in what looked to be fecal matter.  The little boys had slowly been picking away the paint and drywall on the walls.

John Eckhart

John Eckhart

When asked about the boys’ living conditions, Eckhart stated “What am I supposed to do, let them run around the house and get into everything?  What kind of fucking parenting is that?  How fucking stupid are you?  I don’t want them getting into everything, duh.  They are both autistic.”  (Who the hell says Duh anymore?)  Higdon stated the children were kept in that condition because “they are autistic, it’s the only way to contain them”.  With that reasoning I can’t imagine why police arrested the couple.  Even scarier is Higdon is reportedly studying special education.  She attended Clark College and was in the Class of 2011 in elementary education.  She also served as a volunteer at Harney Elementary School.

Alayna Higdon

Alayna Higdon

There are two other children which live in the home, a 9 year old and an 11 month old.  These two children did not seem to have been abused, buy they were living in filth which has been described as a hoarder type conditions.  There was garbage piled up all over in the house, and the fridge contained only pizza and pop.  All of the children have since been removed and placed in Child Protective Services care.

The boys’ biological mother, Jona Bronson is trying to regain custody of them.  When asked about Eckhart, she described him as ‘controlling’ and claiming that he didn’t allow her to know ‘where her children lived’.  Well I am not blaming this mother for the conditions in which her sons were forced to live in, I do strongly question her lack of effort to stay in contact with her children.  Saying she was not allowed to know where they lived is a lame excuse and a cop out.  Bronson did claim that if she had known, she ‘would have fought harder’.  Does it really take a crisis before you would fight for your children?

Jona Bronson

Jona Bronson

She allegedly gave Eckhart custody of the boys in 2006, and hadn’t seen the boys in over a year.  She stated “When I decided to leave, he told me if I took the kids, he would rather kill himself or he would kill me and the kids.  And so I did what I felt was right for them.”  She says she now can see that her decision was wrong and she would “like to make it right”.  I don’t know about anyone else, but doing what’s right for your children is not leaving them with a man who has already threatened to kill them.  She should have taken the boys and sought legal assistance to keep those helpless little boys safe.

The boy’s father, John Eckhart, 30, and their step-mother, Alayna Higdon, 26, were arrested on charges of unlawful imprisonment, second degree criminal mistreatment and domestic violence.

Older Autistic Boy

Older Autistic Boy

What happened next makes me sick, and furious.  In May of 2012, Alayna Higdon and John Eckhart were ACQUITTED of all charges relating to the treatment of Eckhart’s two autistic sons.  Psychologists testified that the makeshift gate was appropriate considering the boys’ risk to themselves.  During a pre-trial hearing, the defense even went so far as to ask the judge to bar witnesses from using the terms “cage” and “cage-like door”, stating that there was no cage, just simply a modified bedroom door.  Judge Robert Lewis stated he wasn’t going to micromanage what words witnesses can use.  Score one for Judge Lewis.  I personally, would love to see this psychologists credentials, and how many trials he has testified in for the defense where his testimony helped to acquit two monster that have committed child abuse.

Younger Autistic Boy

Younger Autistic Boy

There are just so many things that I can’t stop questioning, and so many things that have not been answered for … what about the filth found in the home, especially in the ‘room’ where these two young boys were sleeping?  What about the fact that they had to share one small child size bed, with no blankets or toys?  What about the fact that they were not fed well, pizza and pop the main staples in their diet?  WHY, WHY, WHY was it necessary to keep these children in the dark ALL THE TIME?  Why were they not receiving the medical help they needed?  Why had they never been enrolled in school?  What was the answer to these questions, how were these matters just swept away like they never happened?  How can someone justify these actions as being normal enough that no one needs to be held accountable for them?

Here’s something else that almost pisses me off more.  Let’s just say these two fools were convicted of the charge against them, unlawful imprisonment, they could have been sentenced to 1 to 3 months …. YUP – MONTHS!

Alayna Higdon

Alayna Higdon

The older son now lives in a foster home, and the younger boy is now living with his mother, Bronson.  Apparently the boys are now able to function properly without being locked up – REALLY? – just like that?  The instant they are removed from Higdon and Eckhart’s care, they suddenly stopped being a danger to themselves?  WHAT A LOAD OF SHIT.

John Eckhart

John Eckhart

I don’t know everything there is to know about autism, and I am not going to pretend to be an expert, but I have looked into the disease and I do know a few things.  Autistic children are usually highly intelligent, far above their age.  They understand what is happening around and to them, they are not just drooling zombies like some paint them to be.  I cringe when I think about these two little boys, forced to live in a cage each and every day, all the while unable to speak out against their abusers, but able to understand they are being abused.  Autistic children have enough hurdles to jump in life, they do not need to have a hurdle like this to jump as well.

Having a child with autism is hard, no question.  And that is why there are so many places out there where parents can go to get the help they need to raise their autistic children in a safe, loving, knowledgeable and supportive environment.  What are Higdon’s and Eckhart’s excuses for not picking up a telephone and dialing a number?

In the case of these two boys justice has been FAR from served.




~ by LTWH on February 4, 2012.

One Response to “TWO AUTISTIC BOYS, 5 AND 7, WERE FORCED TO LIVE IN A CAGE – CCA0031 – UPDATED 08.07.2013”

  1. That’s the rub isn’t it? It’s not illegal to do to a handicapped child for their own protection-thus the reason they were aquitted. I have seen situations where reps from family and children services have seen the cage like rooms and suggested only a monitor-not removal. Upon further pushing the reps as to why they asked me had I ever been to the state hospital-they said their lives would NOT have been improved. A lot of child abuse also exixts in homes for handicapped children whhere undertrained workers are overwhelmed have no oversight and get paid 8 to 9 an hour. One only needs to reads the state incident reports to see that the abuse can be just as bad or worse-it’s just of a different kind. It would take a lot more tax payer dollars to make the situauion better.

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