Sunday, March 13, 2011

Washington Post Breaks Taboo and Reports Honestly on Autism and Aggression

The Washington Post reports on aggression and autism in an article curiously titled In Va. assault case, anxious parents recognize 'dark side of autism'.  I call it curious because many parents of autistic children have dealt for many years with the impulsive aggression that can accompany autism. It is in fact the big mainstream media that has been reluctant to talk about this negative autism reality. The glorification of autism disorders plays out constantly in the mainstream media which focuses on autism feats or the "self" advocacy of  a few very high functioning autistic persons.  The WP deserves credit for reporting this story straight up and for offering some parent perspective of this harsher reality of autism disorders in its coverage of the assault trial of a young with Aspergers:

The cause of autism - a complex developmental disability that affects a person's ability to communicate and interact with others - remains the subject of heated debate. What's not in dispute is the soaring number of children found to have the disorder. In 1985, autism had been diagnosed in one out of 2,500 people in the United States; now the rate is one in 110.

Champion said parents are just beginning to acknowledge what she calls the "dark side of autism," their children's capacity for aggression when they are frustrated, angry or overstimulated. Her son recently hit his attendant and attacked his father in front of a movie theater. Other parents describe scary episodes of biting, kicking and hitting.

It's not easy to talk about children lashing out, Champion said. But it's necessary because many are getting older and bigger and yearn for more independence, which leads to private struggles becoming public.

During Latson's three-day trial, no one disputed that he assaulted a Stafford deputy one morning in May. The deputy was bleeding so profusely that responding officers thought he had been shot.

But why Latson - who has Asperger's syndrome, a relatively mild form of autism - did it and whether he could have stopped himself played a central role in his defense and has engaged the sympathy of parents in the Washington region and beyond."

When my 6 foot, 15 year old son with Autistic Disorder and profound developmental delays has a difficult time he will lash out ...  at himself.  In a recent mid night incident he could not stop hitting his face and head.  I tried, unsuccessfully to stop him by using words, distraction and diversion.  When I felt it necessary to grab his harms to stop him from hitting himself Conor lunged forward biting my arm.  Such actions are rare for Conor and I have no doubt that he did not wish to harm me. There is also no doubt that his actions are a feature of his Autistic Disorder a mental health disorder.  Those who pretend otherwise are denying reality. 

I believe that refusing to acknowledge these harsher realities of autism disorders does a disservice to all those who suffer from them.


Socrates said...

OK, so now Asperger's is a big deal? You'll obviously understand when I lash out and tell you that you are one of the most loathsome creatures on teh autism intawebs today.

A true pseudo-neurotypical benefiting from all of the more unpleasant autistic traits that make us what we are.

'scuse my language, but: tosser!

Unknown said...

Socrates whatever you are you are nott like my son with Autistic Disorder and you do not speak for him.

He, unlike you is severely autistic and intellectually disabled. You do not share his challenges and your rage does not impress me or enlighten anyone else either.

My son is also a wonderful fun person who is liked by all who have met him. Judging by the rage you routinely exhibit on the internet including at this site I will hazard a guess that you also differ from him in that regard.

I don't know if you are trying to sound tough by throwing insults across the internet from your keyboard but I am not convinced on that point either and I doubt anyone else is. You are just making yourself look silly.

jonathan said...

You have to remember, Harold, Socrtates hates his ASD and is so embittered about it he has been driven to alcoholism and he is usually drunk when he writes these internet rants.

Mom on a Mission said...

Harold: Thank you for posting this. I remember one of our daughters would bite, almost absent-mindedly and our son once broke my cheekbone with his head (a head butt). Neither of them were aware of the pain they were inflicting -- they just wanted us to leave them alone. I always say to parents that the three year old ASD pre-schooler having a meltdown will one day be a man and won't be so easy to subdue... you are right that the reality of autism is often glossed over in the media and in dramatizations on t.v. or in the movies. The reality is that ASD people get frustrated which can lead to impulsive acts of aggression -- and when you recognize the fact that ASD people often have impulse control issues, this can create a very dangerous situation. Thanks for this post!