RCMP are investigating the alleged assault of a Nova Scotia man with autism by one of his caretakers.

Barb Gillis’s son Paul, 23, suffered a bruise to his head over the weekend at the Quest Regional Rehabilitation Centre in Lower Sackville.

He’s lived there for four years and has been injured before. “I have a sore head,” he said Tuesday.

Barb Gillis was told about the bruise by staff late Saturday night. She was told he’d fallen and hit his head on the floor. But when she called back to check on Paul Sunday, she said the staff story changed.

“He said, ‘Well, Paul had an incident and he bumped his head on the wall.’ I said, ‘But I was told it was the floor.’ He said it was both.” 

'I don't think staff are adequately trained with the type of people who live there.' - Brenda Hardiman

She went to Quest Sunday to see for herself. “I asked Paul what happened and he named the member of staff that pushed his head into the wall, he said.”

Gillis says she was subsequently told by a Quest official that Paul had lunged at the staffer and the person pushed her son to protect himself.

Staff told her Paul saw a doctor, but she questions that. She also questions the decision to sedate her son after he was injured.

Gillis doubts Quest’s ability to work with people who have autism. She says they lack the skills to diffuse situations, rather than escalate them.

“I don't know if they're trained for autism, because Quest is not specific for autism. I have gone to many, many meetings over the years trying to help staff understand my son,” she said.

Gillis isn’t alone in raising concerns about Quest.

Brenda Hardiman’s daughter Nichelle Benn also lives there. She’s facing assault charges that were laid by a Quest staff member.

“I don't think staff are adequately trained with the type of people that live there. They have higher-end needs and require higher-end training and I don't think a lot of people have that,” she said.

The CBC repeatedly contacted Quest, but requests for interviews were not returned.

Dozens of people gathered for a demonstrations in Truro and downtown Halifax Sunday afternoon in support of people with mental challenges in the criminal justice system.

People walked in support of those with intellectual disabilities, who protesters say are not treated fairly by the justice system — particularly for behaviour they have trouble controlling which leads them to be charged and incarcerated.