Saturday, December 01, 2007

Severe Autism Reality in Durham, Ontario (and Fredericton, New Brunswick)

Most [Vancouver Sun and Toronto Star excepted] mainstream media features deal with higher functioning autistic persons, particularly those who have overcome the obstacles presented by High Functioning Autism and Aspergers and accomplished incredible feats. Even purportedly low functioning autism interviews such as some of those repeatedly featured on CNN aren't really addressing the harder realities faced by severely autistic persons and their families.

Nor are you likely to read their stories on the so called Autism Hub blogger network where bloggers actually promote autism, openly mock families struggling to treat and cure their children of their autism and pompously tell parents to accept, respect and love their own children.

Challenges of autism 'massive mountain' to climb
in is another exception to this media trend. It is an article by autism mom and Durham resident Christine J. Taylor describing realistically the life challenges faced by her severely autistic 12 1/2 year old son and their family:

Our boy is very loving, exceptionally handsome and an incredibly busy child. He is non-verbal (approximately 40 per cent of all people with autism are) and his cognitive skills are quite low. This, quite understandably, creates a tonne of frustration for him. The "tantrums" he has are exhausting. For him and for us.

He can become self-abusive, destructive and has no understanding of "danger."


While they're young, these kids are still being housed, clothed and fed by their parents. The children will get older and so will their parents. It is indescribably "gut wrenching" to think that one day, we may not be able to care for our son.

Ms Taylor in talking of her son and their family has described very well the realities faced by 11 1/2 year old Conor and our family. It is a reality you have to live to understand.


Anonymous said...

You cannot cancel either story out. I'm sure many of these people have also struggled. Their stories are as valid as others and somehow you have to agree to disagree or accomodate all needs. You don't do that by disrespecting autistics across the spectrum

Unknown said...


I did not disrespect anyone across the spectrum. Nor did I suggest that the stories of the persons featured in the media have not struggled.

What I said, and what you failed to address, is that the problems of the severely autistic do not show up in the mainstream media networks, at least not on television.

CNN does not visit facilities where severely autistic persons live their lives cared for by others or the hospitals which have to provide services to severely autistic people who bang their heads until causing brain injury, bite their hands and arms and those of their caregivers.

Hard realities of severe autism do not make for feel good entertainment, do not draw public awareness or funding for services.

You missed the point.

Anonymous said...

Did you manage to miss the series of articles in the Vancouver Sun earlier this year? None of them painted autism in anything but a catastrophic light. Is the Vancouver Sun not mainstream enough for you? Is *any* positive spin on Autism too positive for you?

Unknown said...

To Anonymous 4:01PM

You said "Did you manage to miss the series of articles in the Vancouver Sun earlier this year? "

My answer to anon 4:01 - No I did not miss that series as you would know if you had actually read my comment with any care at all as I said:

"Most [Vancouver Sun and Toronto Star excepted] mainstream media features deal with higher functioning autistic persons,..."

With respect to the rest of your post it is unfortunate that you do not think severely autistic children should be featured in media accounts of autism.

Deal With It said...

Several years ago, I worked with a young teen (I’ll refer to him as Andrew), who had been diagnosed officially with, “Asperger’s Syndrome.” At the age of 13 years, he had been charged with two criminal counts of assault with weapon’s dangerous and was only permitted to attend school one hour each day under the direct supervision of his mother in the classroom. To deal with this behavior problem, Andrew had been prescribed with daily doses of Risperdal since 11 years-of-age.

Andrew confessed to me that family had told him he would never graduate public school, let alone high school and his schoolteachers felt he would never amount to much as well. However, all I saw was a normal child who’d been beaten into the ground and was fighting back. Self-esteem was non-existent and he was continually badgered and berated throughout his surrounding home and school life. Today seven years later, Andrew is enrolled in his second year at a local community college as a Computer Systems Technician and is medication free.

When it comes to any child, sometimes we become entrapped by group norms that eventually limit an individual’s ability to achieve. We must begin by truly believing, “Anyone can do anything,” otherwise they never will. I don’t like labels such as special needs or categorizations such as autism, developmentally challenged, or whatever someone today considers politically correct. I have never believed in the Special Olympics, because it reinforces our prejudices and categorizes people outside the norms of society.

We need to begin by treating all children as normal and just like everyone else. Demand correct and age-appropriate behavior at all times, and never make exceptions or allowances based upon some so-called professional’s diagnosis, which eventually becomes tattooed onto your child’s forehead.