Growing Rates of Autism
Violent behavior in autistic children: when a young relative with mental disorders who had always been a quiet, introspective child suddenly became dangerously violent, the paucity of resources available screamed out for attention. I am not coming to you here with flowered words, rather in hope of simply raising awareness of the growing number of autistic children with violent behavior. About 1 in 88 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) according to estimates from CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network. This growing rate of mental disorders in children is already overwhelming available resources.
Those of us blessed to be sound of mind and body are deserving of that utter lack of compassion that steels our will and hardens us physically, mentally and emotionally to life’s journey. But those who are strong are morally obliged to be compassionate to the weak. Do you hear me, Mitt Romney? There can be none that deserves compassion more than these poor lambs: autistic children.
Like broken misfit toys, are their lives not mainly relegated to the shelf of our attention? At least for those of us at a comfortable distance or blessed to not parent a child with mental disorders. But for the parents of autistic children and those with asperger syndrome and other borderline personality disorders, how can we imagine the ache when a child with mental disorders exhibits violent behavior? In truth, we don’t bother to imagine; we simply blame the parents of the autistic children. They did not love the child enough or give the child throwing temper tantrums or engaging in violent behavior sufficient attention. And we are proud in our ignorance and the greater the disruption the autistic children make in our lives, the greater our disdain for the parents who saw not the warning signs. But now, I have seen every sacrifice made, every penny spent, every affection given and still; with the suddenness of a switch, violent behavior that threatens lives became manifest in a once sweet autistic child with little warning signs at all.
The Agony of a Violent Child
We have left such parents with nowhere to turn. It is often the parents of children with mental disorders themselves who are most victimized. Parents severely beaten when their children unleash violent autistic behavior with no warning signs is a daily occurrence in our country. Some do not survive! The story of an Ohio college professor who wrote opinion pieces about her severely autistic child and her growing isolation from friends is more than a cautionary tale as she was ultimately beaten to death by him. We are abandoning not only children with mental disorders but their parents as well.
All of us, especially the politicians, should read this heart-wrenching tale of a mother doing her utter best to love her violent autistic child who exhibits borderline personality disorder. With no warning signs, her son unleashed violence against friends and family. She found a pitiless bureaucracy that yielded to few options. Clearly, there is a role that government alone can fulfill. Indeed, if there is a purpose in our social order, is this not it? We have failed utterly to this point and the rates of autism are ever increasing.
Call the police? They are wholly lacking in training. The current trend of steroid-addled policing in this country will probably be ever ill-equipped to deal with children of diminished capacity until the cops are themselves drug free. But clearly it is role of police to protect, yes even parents from violent autistic children. There of must needs be training in crisis intervention for the police to handle children with emotional problems other than beating them senseless. Likewise, teachers of those with borderline personality disorders, asperger syndrome and other mental disorders should be versed in the warning signs of violent behavior.
Children with Mental Disorders and the Psychiatric Void
Only yesterday, the Wall Street Journal pointed out that there is a glaring lack of scientific knowledge on the part of child psychiatrist, psychologists and pediatricians who treat autistic and mentally ill children. These innocent lives are lived out in heart-breaking agony as their illness not only is not well-treated but not even medically defined.
It is a sad fact that we are at the Mengele stage of dispensing powerful psychiatric medications without having a clue as to whether the drugs are even efficacious. These are our children. Sadly, an ever growing number of our children, as our genetic manipulations of the natural order redounds on our babes. At the federal, state and local levels there is a need for grass roots attention to be focused on our children’s welfare. Especially on the least amongst us.
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