At their various playgroups and nurseries, Eldest and Grenouille used to sing a song about frogs. Well, actually, they used to sing several songs about frogs, but the one I am thinking of went
‘Ah-um went the little green frogs one day
Ah-um went the little green frogs
Ah-um went the little green frogs one day
And they all went ah-ah-um
Now we all know frogs go wye-aye-diddly,
We all know frogs go wye-aye-diddly
They don’t go ah-ah-um.’
Eldest, at three or four, found this mildly amusing, since we all know fine well that frogs go neither ‘ah-um’ nor ‘wye-aye-diddly’; Grenouille simply accepted it with the sort of pragmatic philosophy that G brings to bear on most of the incomprehensible things that the wider world presents, and both of them left it behind them when they went to school.
However, it was brought to our notice recently on a visit to family; Wee Cousin was treating us to his repertoire of Cub campfire songs and this was one of them. “Oh, I remember that one!” I said, as Wee Cousin struck up, and indeed, I did, except that in the Cubs’ version, the frogs go ‘Blup-blup’ instead of ‘Ah-um’. There was slight difference about the chorus, too:
“Now we all know frogs go ‘Squelch!’ when you step on them….”
G and Eldest were both reduced to helpless giggles, mainly owing to Wee Cousin’s enthusiasm in accompanying every ‘Squelch!’ with a vigorous stamping action that involved both arms as well as his feet, but my sister was mortified.
“Oh for goodness’ sake, must you sing those gruesome ditties when we’ve company, you grisly child?”
Big Cousin observed, “We sing it in Scouts as well, Mum. Me and my mates reckon you can tell who needs keeping an eye out for, by watching for the ones who are too enthusiastic when it gets to the bit about, ‘Now we all know frogs go ‘Whirr!’ in the blender.'” He grinned at his mother’s expression of resigned horror. She rolled her eyes upwards.
“And these are supposed to be organisations that channel their energies productively! Tchah! Boys!” she said, with fond maternal loathing.
If people who are excessively enthusiastic when singing about frog-destruction need to be watched out for, what sort of an eye needs to be kept on a person who will eat a live frog? Even a fourteen-year-old Scout can tell you: a very close one. And would probably add, “Plus, this person will need a lot of help to channel their energies productively”.
This is the current situation of 21-year-old Dude Chris, who has been determined, not merely by a Scout, but by the High Court, by a Mental Health Tribunal, and by a report from a Local-Authority-commissioned Independent Social Worker, to need an exceptionally high level of care. This includes access to a private, suitably-equipped outdoor space to let him be active, as young men need to be.
Dude Chris has been diagnosed as having severe autism, severe learning difficulties and a severe speech and language deficit, which means he doesn’t speak, although he communicates non-verbally. If he is not offered suitable activities and stimulation, he self-harms, and has caused himself disfiguring injuries. While in hospital care, he has been physically and emotionally abused by staff, and more than once. Two years ago, he was the subject of a serious Human Rights abuse case in the High Court.
He is currently in a Mental Health Unit. Here, instead of the sensory garden that he was promised (in front of a Judge, no less) he has an enclosed, barren bogland to wander in. The equipment that his family provided for the garden has been removed by the ‘clinical team’. Dude Chris does what he can with the space: roams around, pulling up and chewing plants and mud. And recently, he caught that unfortunate frog, and ate it alive. The rest of his time he spends, under-occupied, over-medicated, bored, frustrated to the point of outbursts and subjected from time to time to face-down physical restraint, in a locked flat.
The Local Authority and NHS Trust know that this is not satisfactory, and they want to move Dude Chris. His family have found a bespoke housing provider, and specialist support organisations, that would be happy to help Dude Chris to live locally, in a safe, stimulating home of his own, close to his family and friends, with the facilities and support he needs. But the public organisations say that these proposals are ‘unhelpful’. They want to put Dude Chris into a secure hospital – another distant, closed, collective institution where he will be out of sight, out of mind, and arguably at risk of more of the abuse he has already experienced. This is the authorities’ preferred solution, despite the fact that the hospital will cost more than the tailored home care.
Dude Chris’ family have poured their time, their love, their money, and the blood, sweat and tears of their hearts’ courage into trying to get him the provision he has been, repeatedly, promised. They could do with a little support, which you can help provide through Chris’ Voice UK and the linked change.org petition. Two clicks, that’s all.
For Dude Chris; in memory of, and in Justice for, LB: First Dude Amongst Dudes.