Family concerned about support for adult sons with autism prone to fits of rage

Pam Muawad shows the broken window blinds and holes punched into their wall.

"This is a result of my autistic son Andrew who went into a rage," she said.

Unfortunately for Pam, and her husband Brian, rages are common for their two adult children with autism.  

"He lets things come to a boiling point, and then he reacts physically to that," she said. "Either by lashing out in this manner - or unfortunately he will resort to self-harm."

Her son Michael is 22, and his brother, Andrew, is 21. She says both have the mind of a 3- or 4-year-old.

FOX 2: "Are you afraid of your kids?"

"I am," said Brian Muawad said.

Brian Muawad, a successful attorney in Macomb County, says he can't control their behavior and sometimes they just run out of the house.

"We've had to call the police a couple of times for that reason alone," he said.

Sometimes the cops bring them home. Other times they end up in the hospital where they are admitted, medicated, and sent back home - often when insurance won't pay anymore.      

"They need 24-hour, around-the-clock, residential care," Brian said.

But the reality is, 24-hour care for adults with autism is lacking.  

"We're having trouble getting staff," said Lisa Lepine.

Lepine is the Executive Director of the Arc of Macomb County,  a nonprofit dedicated to those people and families with developmental disabilities. She says staffing rates to assist parents must go up.

"Right now the average rate of pay is usually around $10 to $12," she said.

FOX 2: "How much should they get paid?"

"In my opinion, anywhere from $25-$30 an hour," said Lepine.  

FOX 2: "Do you think that's realistic?"

"It's not currently realistic, but I hope that we can make it realistic," she said.
The Macomb County Health Department does have services and support within their network, but they acknowledge there's a staffing shortage and is working with the state to recruit and retain qualified staff.  

"We have no alternative but to call the police," said Pam. "And they're taken to a hospital, and that's just a revolving door.  At best, it puts a Band-Aid on the problem- it doesn't resolve anything- nothing."