October 21, 2005

How Autism Threatens Childrens' Lives

Several times a month there are stories in the news about autistic children who have walked away from home. Some of the time the children are found safely, many times they are not. Up until now I have not been posting these stories, as they are difficult for parents of autistic children to read. ...as they are difficult for me to read. I now think that I should have been.

I think people need to understand how vulnerable most of these kids are because they lack a healthy fear of their environment.

I do this to make a point to those who say that trying to find a 'cure' for autism is either morally wrong or physically dangerous.


Lost child found by Rockland police
by Max Bowen
Friday, October 21, 2005

An autistic child found at midnight on Monday in Rockland was later reunited with his mother, according to Rockland Deputy Police Chief John Llewellyn.

On Monday, Oct. 17 at 11:45 p.m., police received a call from the fire department reporting a small boy walking near the intersection of Westwater and Grove streets. A detail officer found the child a short time later.

"He wasn't wearing any shoes or socks," said Llewellyn. "The child was non-responsive."

Police were able to coax the boy into a police cruiser using potato chips. Officer Thomas MacDonald drove the boy, who police described as being 6 or 7 years old, around the area where he was found in the hopes he would indicate where he lived. The child gave no response, however, and the officer took him back to the station.

Police contacted the fire department, who took the child by ambulance to Brockton Hospital while the Department of Social Services was notified to send a caseworker. The Plymouth County Sheriff's Department performed a reverse 911 call to all the homes within a one-mile radius of the area where the boy was found.

At 12:12 a.m. the boy's mother came to the station to pick up the child. She informed officers that her child was autistic and unable to communicate. The family had recently moved to the area.

5 comments:

Wade Rankin said...

The absolutely worst 10 minutes of my life occurred when our little one managed to separate himself from us in DisneyWorld! At that time, he was completely non-verbal. Thanks to a lot of caring people, we had him back in our arms in a relatively short time, but it seemed like an eternity. I often wonder what might have happened if he wandered away from us in a less safe environment.

Kev said...

Its an absolute nightmate scenario I agree but I don't really see how (or why) you're tying it into the desire to not 'cure'?

Kids wander away from their parents all the time, both autistic and not autistic - they do it because they're curious beings. Removing autism won't remove curiosity.

The other point of course is that the advantage of not being cured probably wouldn't occur to someone until they were in teen/adulthood and able to appreciate concepts such as determinism, self-awareness, choice etc. You wouldn't want to 'cure' someones gender in their childhood as that would be a choice for them as adults.

Likewise, if our daughter came home to us in her teens and said on balance she wanted to be 'cured' then I would move heaven and earth to make that happen. What we all do, we do for our kids right? But who are we to make such a drasticaly altering choice as 'curing' their autism when they can have no appreciation of the way it would alter the core of who they were as people?

Ginger said...

Kev,

So most of my reply to these two comments turned into a whole new post. See above.

As mentioned above, I don’t really think the change is as dramatic as you do, but I will address your point here:

"But who are we to make such a drastically altering choice as 'curing' their autism when they can have no appreciation of the way it would alter the core of who they were as people?"

Who are we? We are their parents.

Making choices that will impact who our children will become is the blessing and burden of parenthood. We have to make HUGE choices for our children and we don't get to find out the final impact and totality of those choices until their lives and personalities completely unfold.

We are flying with blinders on, with the only view in the rear view mirror and out the side windows, and we can only make the best choices we can make with that information. Every time we make a choice for our children, we unchoose every other possibility for them.

I stand as a living testament to the brilliant successes and tragic failures of Phil and Bonnie parenting decisions. They made choices that drastically altered the course of my life and my personality. They did the best they could with what they had.

I am both grateful and resentful of their parenting choices. That is my blessing and burden as a child who was raised by humans. It will also by my son’s.

Some parents choose to be proactive in shaping their children’s personalities, some sit back and let their children’s personalities unfold. My parents chose the former tactic and my husband’s parents choose the latter. Each of us thinks our parents made the wrong choice. That is one of the few rights of being a child, to complain about the way your parents raised you. Both your daughter and my son will do the same to us, regardless of how good or bad a job we do. ;)

Kevin, you are choosing to take the conservative path, I am choosing more risk. Neither of us are wrong.

Kev said...

I'm sorry I seemed to wander off mid-point here. I just discovered a backwards trail to this..so...

Who are we? We are their parents.

Making choices that will impact who our children will become is the blessing and burden of parenthood. We have to make HUGE choices for our children and we don't get to find out the final impact and totality of those choices until their lives and personalities completely unfold.


We are indeed their parents, but we are not their owners.

I entirely agree that parents must make choices, sometimes uncomfortable ones, but deciding to fundementally alter the way that someone percieves - the way that someone is - is not equatable to choosing the right school, or the right home, or promoting good manners or any of the hundred of other things parents decide for their kids.

I see the altering of an intrinsic neurological state as akin to someone of afro-caribean descent deciding to alter their kids skin colour. Or their gender, or their sexuality. At that point I think we better leave this particular area as I know you've made a more pertinent post touching on this so I'll head over there ;o)

Online Wong PoKér Hu said...

Autistic children may not be vulnerable to diseases, but they can be vulnerable to accidents. Autistic children have little reception to learning, thus they are not fully aware of the things that they do. It is hard to monitor their actions because they tend to be selective and non-responsive.