Saturday, March 15, 2008

Autistic Self Injury - The Autism Story CNN Does Not Tell You

CNN has offered a number of features on autism over the past few years. For reasons that remain unknown to many parents of autistic children CNN with all its resources and with its ability to speak to the world has chosen to obsess over Amanda Baggs, an allegedly low functioning autistic person, diagnosed with an autism disorder as a young woman, who amongst other abilities and accomplishments, was able to attend a college for gifted young people, (Simon's Rock College), make friends, and engage educators and professionals in discussion. Meanwhile CNN ignores the plight of millions of autistic people around the globe, including autistic children who hurt themselves quite severely.

DailyRecord.co.uk is not as squeamish as CNN. In Help My Autistic Daughter Before She Kills Herself, the DR tells the story of Samantha, a seven year old Scottish girl who will sometimes beat her head off any solid object within reach. She has broken her own nose and fractured fingers while hitting her head with her own hands. Doctors think it is Samantha's autism which directly causes the self injurious behavior while Samantha's mother believes it is because she is suffering from an undiagnosed medical ailment, possibly a tumor, and pain which she can not understand or communicate. Regardless of which is the more accurate picture in Samantha's case many severely autistic children, are known to injure themself. My own son has engaged in self injurious behavior although nowhere nearly as seriously as Samantha whose parents are fighting to obtain the specialist services including autism specific education that Samantha needs.

The DailyRecord story includes two pictures of Samantha. One picture shows her without apparent injury and the other shows her extremely bruised face. You are unlikely to see such a hard autism reality on Dr. Sanjay Gupta's CNN autism productions but it is a reality that some parents of autistic children must face, and their children must suffer with, if they do not have access to the services of appropriate autism specialists.


5 comments:

Maya M said...

CNN, via Larry King, has also helped in launching Jenny McCarthy to autism expert status - a fact that has, frankly, pissed me off.

Ettina said...

"You are unlikely to see such a hard autism reality on Dr. Sanjay Gupta's CNN autism productions but it is a reality that some parents of autistic children must face, and their children must suffer with, if they do not have access to the services of appropriate autism specialists."

Though they didn't call it that, looking back my teachers practiced a modified form of ABA on me. That's when I first starting biting my arms.
It's gotten worse over time. Several months ago, I hit myself on the head with a glass bottle. I saw an intense flashing light and my vision fuzzed over, and then it cleared and I had a terrible headache and felt dizzy. That's the worst self-injury I've ever done, in terms of severity. In terms of frequency, this past week I've self-injured almost every day (punching my arms - I currently have a bruise on each wrist), which is the most frequent it's been.
Had I been diagnosed earlier, the treatment I would've gotten would have been pretty similar to what I actually got, but more intense. The effect would likely have been the same - rebellion, self-injury, fear of control, emotional flashbacks, lashing out at those who love me because can look like hate.
If you go to http://users.1st.net/cibra/ there are several children described there who started self-injuring or became aggressive because of ABA.
Certainly some autistics self-injure for others reasons, and ABA can help some children stop self-injuring, but it's inaccurate to suggest that autism treatment is the solution to preventing or stopping self-injury.

Autism Reality NB said...

Ettina

Please don't try to sell the idea that autistic self injury results from ABA. There are no studies to support that. To the contrary, decades of study as reported in several credible reviews include most recently the AAP review document that autistic persons receiving ABA, REAL ABA, not whatever you received, benefit from the ABA to make sustainable gains, including reduction in self injurious behavior.

On personal experience my son was self injurious, seriously self injurious. ABA has allowed us to communicate with him and he with us and while he still sufferes meltdowns while overstimulated or frustrated and still self injuries it is much less than it once was.

Anonymous said...

Risperdone? My son's doctor told me to put my son on this stuff for his self-injurious behaviors. I argued that until we ELIMINATE ALL underlying medical issues that could be triggering self-injury, I would not put my son on a drug that could cause more health problems. Turns out my son, through extensive tests I had to fight like a madwoman to get my son to have, has an ulcer, high ammonia levels and is anemic! Now, just imagine if I were dumb enough to go for the psychiatric drugs which would have done NOTHING to help his underlying medical issues and in face cause MORE problems for his liver and kidneys, since he's already on seizure meds. Listen folks, when you have an autistic child with self-injurious behavior who can't talk and has seizures they are in a very, very unique position. A very delicate position. Stuffing them full of drugs does not cure SIB. Insisting doctors run tests and obsessively search for all and any underlying medical issues that could be causing pain, discomfort or frustration is imperative!!!! Don't settle for the quick fix. Insist on MRI of brain, head and neck. abdomen, etc...blood tests,. etc... Then, after all this you eliminates all possible reasons medically your child could be multiliating himself, then consider the behavioral interventions or psychiatric drugs. The hard truth my friends is that medical insurances don't give a damn about searching for what is really going on because it costs money to investigate such an unknown phenomenon. It's much easier and cheaper to prescribe a pill.

Anonymous said...

Risperdone? My son's doctor told me to put my son on this stuff for his self-injurious behaviors. I argued that until we ELIMINATE ALL underlying medical issues that could be triggering self-injury, I would not put my son on a drug that could cause more health problems. Turns out my son, through extensive tests I had to fight like a madwoman to get my son to have, has an ulcer, high ammonia levels and is anemic! Now, just imagine if I were dumb enough to go for the psychiatric drugs which would have done NOTHING to help his underlying medical issues and in face cause MORE problems for his liver and kidneys, since he's already on seizure meds. Listen folks, when you have an autistic child with self-injurious behavior who can't talk and has seizures they are in a very, very unique position. A very delicate position. Stuffing them full of drugs does not cure SIB. Insisting doctors run tests and obsessively search for all and any underlying medical issues that could be causing pain, discomfort or frustration is imperative!!!! Don't settle for the quick fix. Insist on MRI of brain, head and neck. abdomen, etc...blood tests,. etc... Then, after all this you eliminates all possible reasons medically your child could be multiliating himself, then consider the behavioral interventions or psychiatric drugs. The hard truth my friends is that medical insurances don't give a damn about searching for what is really going on because it costs money to investigate such an unknown phenomenon. It's much easier and cheaper to prescribe a pill.