While many major news outlets, Holllywood and the American Psychiatric Association (in the DSM-5) are doing their best to convince the world that autism disorders are really just a different way of thinking, that autistic persons are all socially awkward but brilliant success stories waiting to be profiled, reality hits home for those who are severely affected by autism disorders and the parents who care for them as it did last week in Oklahoma for Stephen B. Puckett, a 28 year old severely autistic man, and his family.
Credit is due to NewsOK (The Oklahoman online) and Age of Autism for reporting the story of Stephen B. Puckett whose autism disorder induced violent behavior at an Oklahoma hospital (OU Medical Center) resulted in him being arrested and taken in handcuffs to an Oklahoma City Jail where his lawyer states that he spent three days in a straight jacket on suicide watch. NewsOK reports that Age of Autism readers responded to that site's coverage with messages of support for the family. A video of Mr. Puckett's mother talking about the situation and changes needed can be found at the NewsOK web site.
The hospital had refused to admit Mr. Puckett after he suffered seizures as a result of his autism. When Mr. Puckett kicked and scratched hospital police officers he was hauled away in handcuffs by police and spent three days in jail in a straightjacket on suicide watch. As he was being taken away the Oklahoman reports that Mr. Puckett was heard to say to one of the arresting officers "but officer I'm a good boy".
Ultimately charges were not laid against Mr. Puckett. Oklahoma County first assistant District Attorney Scott Rowland refused a police request to file charges recognizing that there were mental health issues involved and not wanting to have Mr. Puckett placed in the general prison population. Stephen Puckett's mother has called for legislative policy changes so that hospitals can not refuse to admit people suffering from autism induced seizures.
What is also needed is recognition by the American Psychiatric Association that intellectual disability and cognitive impairment, seizures and other issues are often part of autism disorders. It is wrong headed and dangerous for the APA to remove any mention of intellectual disability from the description of autistic disorder in the DSM5. The APA currently plans to separate Intellectual Disability from Autistic Disorder and replace it with the high functioning form of autism now known as Aspergers. This will not help society or hospitals in Oklahoma understand that as many as 75-80% of persons diagnosed with what is today known as Autistic Disorder are also intellectually disabled or cognitively impaired or that many suffer from seizures and meltdowns such as those that occurred in the OU Medical Center.
Autism reality is being replaced in the DSM-5 by psychiatric profession convenience (clinical utility) to the detriment of those most severely affected by autism disorders whether they live in Oklahoma in the US or Fredericton, New Brunswick here in Canada. The APA whitewashing of autism realities is well underway and will continue with the APA substitution of Aspergers for Autistic Disorder in the DSM-5.