Sunday, March 01, 2009

Severe Autism and Perpetual Self Injury: 109 Hits Per Hour


As in 109 hits per hour by an autistic child injuring himself/herself. This information was provided as part of a case study reported in a recent Johns Hopkins Newsletter. The study reported that, ECT, or electroconvulsive therapy, was used to treat an autistic child who was hitting himself/herself 109 times per hour. The report states that the therapy resulted in a reduction from 109 to 19 hits per hour, permitting behavioral therapy and even attendance at educational programs - a substantial improvement in the child's quality of life.

Apart from the outcome of the ECT therapy, about which therapy Christine has commented and raised some very serous concerns, the perpetual nature of the self injury engaged in by this autistic child shows how utterly absurd the idea is that we can not discuss autism in terms of functioning labels or degree of severity. It is extreme denialism to suggest that a child who injures himself/herself 109 times per hour is not severely affected by his/her autism. It is extreme denialism to suggest that such a child is anything other than low functioning. It is extreme denialism to suggest that a child, or an adult, who injures himself 109 times per hour, who injures himself perpetually, does not suffer from a serious medical disorder. It is extreme denialism to suggest that a person who is perpetually injuring himself, herself does not require treatment and, if possible, a cure.

Ari Ne'eman, Amanda Baggs and Michelle Dawson can appear on CBC, and other ill informed, gullible news media, pretending to speak for all persons with autism, and declare that they do not want to be cured of their autism. But they have no right to make such declarations on behalf of those autistic persons like the child in the Johns Hopkins report who injured himself/herself 109 times per hour until treated.

Bookmark and Share


Christine said...

Hi Harold,

Thank you for the mention.

I totally agree with you. My child is on the severe end of the spectrum with an intellectual disability. I am experiencing first hand how she is not valued by society as discharge from IBI is fast approaching. Gains were not being made fast enough. Most programs I watch portray autism as a joy. Children on the severe end of the spectrum are not valued in my opinion. Self injury is a serious problem for some and to ignore it is complete ignorance. The media as a whole or those that are higher functioning ignore the fact of statistics and symptoms of those that are severe. Perhaps these so called experts could suggest treatments that would help those on the severe end. Ignoring children/adults who are living in the reality of autism and not the joy makes it that much harder to access treatment. Since autism is a spectrum disorder let us focus on all of those on the spectrum not just the ones who are verbal. My hope is treatments will be made available to all if so desired and value will be placed on any gains one with autism makes not ignored.

Mark p.s.2 said...

ECT is not a treatment, it is brain damage. Tell me scientifically how ECT stopped the self injury behaviour.
It rationally informed the patient it is not good to self injure, so the patient stopped? No.

Why not do a lobotomy instead of ECT?

I would vote for the painful electric cattle prod aversion behaviour method, rather than brain damage from ECT.
Arms and legs can heal, but a damaged brain is not likely to.