Civic Disability Services assists with inquiries into death of boy with autism at Oatley

Floral tributes left at Oatley station.
Floral tributes left at Oatley station.

Update

Care provider Civic Disability Services is assisting police with inquiries into the death of a boy, 11, at Oatley train station.

The boy, who was autistic, had been staying at the service’s short-term accommodation facility for children and young people when he went missing, chief executive Annie Doyle said.

"This is a tragic and distressing incident and our deepest sympathies and thoughts go out to the child’s family," Ms Doyle said.

"Counselling and assistance services have been made available to our staff and others who have been affected."

Civic said the boy's family had been informed of the details surrounding the incident, and out of respect for the family would not publicly release any more information.

"The matter is the subject of a police investigation and Civic will continue to co-operate and provide whatever assistance possible," a Civic spokeswoman said.

Life cut short: The boy who was severely autistic was found deceased at Oatley railway station on April 22.

Life cut short: The boy who was severely autistic was found deceased at Oatley railway station on April 22.

Earlier

The death of a boy with severe autism, age 11, at Oatley has shocked the community, after the child’s body was found at the railway station on Sunday night.

Police said the boy, reportedly named Alex, ran from a “carer’s facility” and was hit by a train. 

Autism Community Network founder, Steve Drakoulis, says the tragic incident has devastated many families.

“It’s heartbreaking,” he said.

“Our Facebook page was flooded with people rallying around each other. 

“There will be lots of families grieving today because we all feel what they family must be going through.

“This is the greatest fear for families we support. It’s the fear we all have, that our most vulnerable kids can often go wandering. The more severely autistic they are, the more chance they will walk into danger.

“When we have social events like play dates, we always find a location away from traffic, and something that is fenced because they can wander off so easily. And I believe the child wasn’t from the area, so he would not have been familiar with it.”

Mr Drakoulis says reports that the child was in respite care meant he may have only been there temporarily.

“It might have been the case he was in respite just one night, to give the parents the chance to breathe and take a break to focus on themselves or their other kids,” he said.

“I don’t know if the family is part of our support network but they, and the carers must be going through hell knowing that this has happened to a child in their care.”

He says a severely autistic child aged 11 would typically have the intellectual abilities of the three-year-old toddler.

He also says trains are a common fascination trait of children with autism.

“If you were going to stereotype the most common trait of an autistic child, it would be there fascination with trains,” he said.

“Technically, trains are an area of interest for children with autism, much like things like Lego or computer games.

“I’ve seen many kids obsessed with trains – even as adults they are drawn to occupations like engineering and anything mathematical and technical.”

People have left their tributes on social media, including on a page that provides support for families who have young people with special needs.

“Alex was a treasured son, grandson, brother and friend,” the page stated.

“The world lost a beautiful angel. As we try to process this tremendous loss, your beautiful life flashes in front of us. Alex we are going to miss your mischievous smile, the joy in your eyes, your curiosity about the smallest creation and your zest for life. We will miss you so much.”

Oatley MP Mark Coure said on Facebook that his heart goes out to the family, friends and carer.

“As a father, I can only imagine the grief of the family and extend my deepest sympathies for their unimaginable loss,” he said.

“I want to thank the emergency services, and all the locals who last night helped to search for this little boy.

“I would encourage anyone with any information regarding this ongoing investigation, to please contact the police.”

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