The parents of a severely autistic boy have been arrested after investigators determined the 11-year-old had been kept in a large metal cage, possibly to control his violent outbursts, authorities said today. The cage—similar to an extra-large dog kennel—was found in the Orange County, California, home with a mattress and other bedding inside. It was roughly 6 feet tall, 5 feet long, and 3 or 4 feet wide with room to stand. The boy was not inside when police arrived, but family members gave varying accounts of how long he had been kept in it, ranging from hours to days.
"It appeared that as he grew older his episodes of violence and outbursts were increasing and perhaps the parents utilized the cage as a tool to modify that and to contain him when that was happening," a police lieutenant said. "Obviously, putting your child in a locked cage, even if you're desperate for help, is not the best course of action." Officers arrested the couple last night on suspicion of felony child endangerment and false imprisonment, after an anonymous tipster called child protective services. The child was well-nourished and appeared otherwise healthy and his two siblings, ages 8 and 10, were also unharmed. They were all placed in protective custody. (Read more autism stories.)