Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Autism Not a Gift for South Carolina Boy Who Jumped to His Death from a Moving Ambulance

"Shelley Hodge said nobody believed her when she protested her 16-year-old son’s release from a state psychiatric hospital, warning that he could hurt himself or someone else. That teen, Ryan Emory of Greenville, was being driven back to the same hospital Sunday when he loosened a gurney’s straps and jumped out of the back of an ambulance as it traveled down Interstate 85, authorities said.

Emory later died at Greenville Memorial Hospital "

- Greenville, Autistic Greenville High student dies after jumping from ambulance   

The Greenville Online describes an autism reality unlikely to be portrayed on CNN, or  the larger mainstream media generally,  which prefers to focus on feel good stories about high functioning persons with autism and Aspergers and generally ignores the  harsher realities confronting persons with low functioning autism disorders.  Thanks to Claire Danes and the producers of the recent biopic about Dr. Temple Grandin the misleading image of autism as nothing more than a different way of thinking will likely be pushed more and more by a mainstream media that has no desire at all to burden its viewers and readers with darker tales of the dismal life prospects of those for whom autism is a serious disorder.

CNN has posted a video clip of Temple Grandin on its web site opinion page under the title Temple Grandin: why autism is a gift. In the video Dr. Grandin describes yet again her way of looking at the world and, apart from describing her way of thinking in very positive terms, she also offers the widely circulated opinion that Einstein and Mozart were autistic; a claim based purely on speculation .  Many parents of autistic children would disagree with Dr. Grandin and CNN, which has in the past fawned over Amanda Baggs,  a person with an autism disorder diagnosis who once attended a college for gifted youth . Many parents, including me, love our children and find great joy in them,  but live with the reality that our children are not Dr. Temple Grandin,  that  they are much more severely affected by an  autism disorder which  will restrict and impair their lives.  For the sake of our children, we have to be brutally honest when describing their condition to a world that does not always want to hear about the realities confronting those most severely affected by autism disorders.

The Greenville Online article reports that Shelley Hodge said nobody believed her when she protested her autistic 16-year-old son’s release from a state psychiatric hospital, warning that he could hurt himself or someone else:

"The last six months have been particularly difficult, Hodge said.

Emory became more aggressive lashing out at relatives and others, she said. He was in and out of hospitals for fainting spells and his behavior. 

Hodge said that when the psychiatric institute released Emory, she protested plans to send him home.

“I’m like, ‘He’s 250 pounds. I’m afraid for his safety and mine,’”

“And I wrote that on the discharge plan. Hodge said she believed her son’s troubles went beyond autism and that he needed a thorough evaluation and to be in a controlled environment with “24-7 care.

A state mental health worker told her Emory’s needs weren’t critical enough, she said

(Highlighting added - HLD)

The media, and health care authorities, don't always put much weight on the information provided by parents of children with autism disorders.  A world that  prefers to see autism as just another way of thinking, as the way of  Einstein and Mozart, does not always listen to parents who claim that their autistic child suffers from a serious disorder which causes harm to them and others. Shelley Hodge tired to tell them but it appears that no one listened.

Autism may be a gift for Dr. Temple Grandin. For others, like Shelley Hodge's son Ryan Emory, it is a disorder which can restrict their lives .... and even end them at an early age. You can read more fully about Ryan Emory at Greenville Online. You are unlikely to see his story  on CNN.

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1 comment:

Stephanie Lynn Keil said...

They need to start being realistic about high-functioning people, too.

Most will never end up like Temple Grandin or Ari Ne'eman. Most of them end up like me or Jonathan or worse.

They always have to show the same people and it is really old.

I'm glad Temple Grandin is successful but her success isn't due to her autism as much as it is due to the fact that she had an enormous amount of support, treatment and money.

Most people with autism don't have these things and never will. And even if they do they will most likely still not end up like Temple.