Sheila Quinn is running on four hours of sleep, but she says she's used to it.
The Brome Lake, Que., mother had an especially long day yesterday.
She spent part of it in a doctor's office, where she went through testing for stress-related health issues — the result of years of trying to juggle work, family, and the needs of a son with autism.
When she came home, she was hit with more bad news — her son's school wouldn't be able to care for him any longer.
'Ellen and Justin, we are drowning...and not just in tears.' - Sheila Quinn, mother of Angus, 13-year-old boy with autism
Angus, 13, has autism and attends a specialized school called École du Touret in the Eastern Townships. But lately his behaviour has become more aggressive.
The school told his parents it's become too much, and he won't be able to return for the time being.
It's not clear when he could go back.
"We have scrambled to find family members [to pitch in short-term] but I can't even say what's going to happen beyond next week."
Quinn decided to share her story on Facebook.
In it, she writes: "Ellen and Justin, we are drowning. There are days when we've treaded water, but we're drowning now, and not just in tears. The worst part is, I don't know what to ask for. I don't want a cure, I want Angus to be Angus, whatever that means. I don't want you to bully the school into taking him back, because that isn't working."
Quinn addresses Ellen DeGeneres in the letter because the talk show host is the voice behind Angus's favourite movie character, Dory, from Finding Nemo.
"I needed to tell you that he was born the same year as [Dory], on that very first day — January 1st, 2003 … Since that year, the only way I've ever been able to be sure of getting his attention when I needed it, especially to smile for a picture, was to sing 'Just keep swimming...just keep swimming...just keep swimming, swimming, swimming, what do we do? We swim. Swim. Swim,'" she writes, referring to the song that Dory sings in the movie.
Quinn told CBC News she thinks the best case scenario for Angus is to find a spot in a group home, but that could take years.
She said, mostly, she just wants people to stop telling her, 'Sorry, no more services.'"
'We are partners,' school says
École du Touret principal Isabelle Boucher responded to the letter.
"We know it's hard to find care," Boucher told CBC News. "What you need to know is that we need to ensure security of staff and students. What I think is important is that we work together ... because we are partners. It is a complex case."
Requests for comment from the Prime Minister's Office and Ellen DeGeneres were not returned.