Easter Seals Assistant Posts Degrading Video of Autistic Boy - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Easter Seals Assistant Posts Degrading Video of Autistic Boy

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Todd and Jolene Sjostrom live in Jamestown with their two kids. Belle starts kindergarten this year. Noah is 14 and has severe autism.

Visually impaired, not able to speak or perform every day tasks on his own, the Sjostrom family has used Easter Seals care assistants for years. A new assistant worked with Noah a few days a week this summer, but at the end of August, the family received this phone call:

"He had been separated from employment because he had violated one of their policies by putting a video of our son on the Internet," says Noah's Mother Jolene Sjostrom.

The Easter Seal employees who found the video on Instagram called it "demeaning" and "degrading" to Noah, but the organization didn't want to talk to Valley News Live about the case.

The 21-year-old caregiver and education major also didn't want to talk. He was fired from Easter Seals and the videos were removed, but not before employees grabbed this screen shot.

"It showed him feeding Noah a banana and Noah's mouth was just stuffed with food," says Jolene. 

Demeaning as he made fun of Noah and not to mention dangerous- as Noah's file specifically says he is a choking hazard. Since, the family has taken action.

"I think we were struggling to find what category of law was violated here," says Noah's Father Todd Sjostrom.

The wound made deeper by the time he spent with the Sjostrom family.

"He would come to the lake with us boating, he'd help us out there, he'd be in our home here," says Todd.

One of Todd Sjostrom's biggest fears since Noah can't communicate.

"How could he ever tell us if someone was harming him? When I found out this happened, it was very upsetting," he says.

The state attorney, detective and sheriff's office wouldn't talk about the specifics of this case with us since the caregiver hasn't been charged. But they are working with Instagram to get the original video and say they are considering criminal charges.

The family says they hope to raise awareness about the vulnerability of people with disabilities.




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