Help Callum Sutherland get the assistance he needs!

For: Carly, John & Callum Sutherland
Nova Scotia, Canada
Organizer: Erica Arnoldin
Help Callum Sutherland get the assistance he needs! (Carly, John & Callum Sutherland)
of $10,000 goal
100% Complete
Raised by 161 donors

The Story

On Oct. 18, 2017 Callum Sutherland was admitted to the IWK Hospital in Halifax. Callum is a 9 year old boy who is severely impacted by Autism. He was admitted to the hospital because it was no longer safe for him to go to school, or live in his home and there was no where else for him to go. Callum is struggling with aggressive behaviour and mental health concerns, both of which are extremely common issues of children affected by Autism. However, there is an utter lack of appropriate resources for families experiencing this type of crisis in our province.

As the friends & family of Callum we are working towards both helping Callum through this crisis in the short term as well as helping to ensure he will have the support he needs ongoing.

Specifically we are fundraising in order to help with:

  • An appropriate living space for Callum with a proper sensory/therapeutic set up. (e.g. retrofitting their home, or developing a new space)
  • Savings towards Callum's disability fund, which will provide for Callum as an adult.

Callum's parents, John & Carly, want nothing more than a safe environment for both of their children and the therapy & care that a complex situation like this requires.  Please contribute whatever you can for Callum and spread the word. 

Callum's full story - as told by his mother Carly to Global News:

Callum is nine years old. He loves the beach, the swing in his front yard, bagels, Latin music and his little brother. Callum is also autistic and is severely affected by the challenges this diagnosis presents. Since he was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, we have sought and received every possible evidence-based intervention and support. We managed fairly well despite the significant challenges he faces.

Six months ago, Callum’s behaviour and overall functionality took a major turn. He began losing the skills we had all worked so hard for him to achieve. He became incredibly violent. Already considered “non-verbal,” the few words he did have were gone.The background on our efforts to find help for Callum these last few months — the story I’ve had to repeat probably hundreds of times for the countless professionals we have sought help from — is long and seemingly endless.

To sum up, we have checked off every box and contacted everybody we thought could support us, working our way up to the minister of Health and Wellness as well as the minister of Community Services, Kelly Regan, who is also our MLA.Our journey to date has landed Callum at the Garron Centre for Child and Adolescent Mental Health at the IWK. Not only was this a last resort, there is literally nowhere else for him to get help. This is where our nine-year-old boy has been living for the last five weeks, where he is confined to an isolated unit for his safety, and the safety of others, and where no appropriate therapy is available.This is a key point. 

We have had to bring in our own, private behavioural therapists to work with Callum, which costs thousands of dollars that we don’t really have, especially since I have had to take a leave of absence from my job as a Learning Centre teacher — a job that I love, with students whom I adore.

In one week, the IWK will be releasing Callum from their care. They suggest that Callum would be best served through an outpatient program, and we agree. Here’s the kicker: while there is a small outpatient team that is available for consultation, they don’t provide direct support. Essentially, no outpatient program exists to support my son’s complex needs.When we thought things couldn’t get worse, a child welfare file was started on my six-year-old as, naturally, questions were raised about his safety at home. We were able to say truthfully that we can keep him safe, as we will spend every cent available to ensure support people are in our home — and we have a large, loving group of family, friends and neighbours who would be on our doorstep in minutes if we put out a call.We know that not everyone is so lucky. 

If we were unable to make this guarantee, if we were a refugee family, or single parents without the kind of network and resources we are so fortunate to have, there is a very reasonable chance that Callum would go straight from the hospital to what the Department of Community Services calls a place of safety.A place of safety, for those of you who are wondering, is a hotel room with two DCS workers, and while it might keep my family and me from being assaulted, it would only serve to traumatize Callum and most certainly land him right back in the IWK for the horrific cycle to recommence. Or, my six-year-old would have to go. I don’t share this story as a hypothetical one. I share it because it has happened, and it will happen again.My little boy is not getting the help he needs. He is scared and looking to Mommy for answers. What utterly destroys me is that I don’t have them and I’ve come to the realization that it doesn’t appear those leading our province have them, either.

We are private people. While we have had our struggles, we haven’t shared them broadly; this situation has forced our hand, making us decide to take our story public and blow the lid off what is quite frankly a travesty. My husband and I are part of what is referred to as the “middle class.” We are both educated — in fact, I have a master’s degree in special education. We have the support of family, friends and neighbours. We have all of this and still we are exhausted and demoralized by a government that is failing to step up and support autistic children and adults along with their families and caregivers.

On Thursday, at the end of my remarks during a news conference hosted by Jamie Baillie, leader of the Progressive Conservative party, I called on the government to right the egregious wrong that characterizes our treatment of children with autism in crisis and their families.Our family, and the families that have faced this before us and those that will undoubtedly be in this situation in the days, months and years ahead, need appropriate crisis intervention services, and inter-agency co-ordination and collaboration that meet the needs of this most vulnerable of populations.

Callum deserves better.

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on February 11, 2018


Posted on February 11, 2018

Here is an update from Carly on how they have used the funds we all raised for Callum!

Back in December, our friends set up a gofundme page for our family. We had dug ourselves into a real financial bind after paying thousands for Callum's therapy when he was at the IWK (that's right folks, our pre-eminient children's hospital does not provide evidence-based therapy for psychiatric inpatients with autism!) and knew that these costs would continue after discharge. To say that the money raised took a huge weight off our shoulders is an understatement. We took a portion of the funds, along with a contribution from the folks from the Surrette Battery Christmas party, money raised at the Molson Coors Giver (endless thanks to Billy, Lee and James!) and a generous deal from Chris at Hot Tub Universe, to finance a swim spa for Callum. Swimming has always been his very favourite thing, and given that he is desperately lacking quality of life right now, we wanted to do something that would bring him joy. Not only has this pool had a therapeutic effect for Callum, calming him greatly, and providing him with hours of enjoyment every single day, but it has enabled my boys to share enjoyment of something for the first time in many months. Callum is a person who treasures his relationships and the one he has with Henry is perhaps the most special. I thought you would all enjoy seeing these pictures. And to those of you who made a contribution, you are angels. See photo evidence below! Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

Posted on January 4, 2018

Posted on January 4, 2018

First of all I know that Carly and John want to say a HUGE thank you for all of the support they have received via this fundraiser. They read every single comment and really felt all of your support. 

I've learned from Carly that they have used some of the funds to purchase a therapeutic pool for Callum. Swimming is one of his loves - so this will be just a huge plus in his life. They are also deciding the next move they need to make in terms of retrofitting their current home, or moving to a new one that will better accommodate Callum's needs. 

As a result of the media coverage their story has garnered they have received extra funding through the provincial government, which they desperately needed. However, their monthly expenses still greatly exceed what was provided, so these funds are helping to finance the difference. 

Carly & John were initially hesitant to allow their friends to start this fundraiser, but I know they feel some of their burden has been lifted as a result of your support. In that spirit please share this update and lets keep this fundraiser alive!


Posted on December 8, 2017

Posted on December 8, 2017

I can hardly believe that we only posted this fundraiser on Monday night. We are all blown away by the generosity we’ve seen this week for Carly, John and Callum!  

Thanks to you all we are less than $1000 shy of our goal!!!  A goal I will admit I somewhat arbitrarily set - how do you calculate a lifetime of care? 

Lets all keep sharing this wonderful gift to Callum and get to our $10k goal and beyond!  


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