October 30, 2005

Missing Man Found After Being Hit by a Van

Antwan Hester was found two days after he walked away from his family. They found him because he was in the street and a van hit him. Thank God, he is ok.

As a reminder, I initially posted his story to point out how autism is dangerous. I don't mean to offend anyone who looks at autism as an 'alternative cognition' and feels it should not be cured if it can be, but I feel a little silly demonstrating how autism puts people at risk. It seems self-evident.

I will continue to post these stories as they arise. At least until it gets too upsetting for me.

Missing man found in southern Raleigh
From Staff Reports

RALEIGH -- A missing man was located late Monday night after he was struck by a van on Tryon Road.

Antwan Hester of Henderson, who has autism, received minor injuries and is back at home in Henderson, said Phyllis Stephens, spokeswoman for the Wake County Sheriff's Office.

Hester had wandered off from his family Saturday night at the State Fair. Around 11 p.m. Monday, Hester was walking on Tryon Road when he was struck by a 1997 Dodge van driven by Joan Curtis Smith, 50, of Raleigh, said Jim Sughrue, spokesman for the Raleigh Police Department.

Authorities do not know where Hester spent the two days he was missing. Smith was not cited in the accident, Sughrue said.


Anonymous said...

Hi Ginger,

I have also been surprised at how easy it is to offend other families by just casually discussing 'curing' autism for my own son. I don't know why people equate wanting to provide the best quality of life for my son with not appreciating him the way he is. I can accept him just the way he is, but unfortunately he can not survive independently as he currently is. What's wrong with wanting him to be an independent adult? I may not get him there, but at least I can try.

Anne said...

Here are a few more recent stories on the dangers of being autistic.

HeraldToday.com, October 21, 2005

Juvenile Justice guards allegedly assigned a teen sex offender to bathe and change a severely mentally retarded boy, who police say was then raped by the offender. ...

Advocates for the developmentally disabled are also outraged by the case for two reasons: The boy was locked up in juvenile detention instead of receiving help from the state Agency for Persons with Disabilities and Juvenile Justice officers allowed a sex offender to be alone with him. ...

The family wanted the boy placed in a group home, but was told there was no room, Russ said.

"He's a good kid, he's not no bad kid. He's an autistic child and those kinds of children can get easily upset sometimes," Russ said. "He ain't no criminal and he ain't done no crime."

The Centre Daily, October 14, 2005

Harrisburg, PA - A state appeals court reinstated a third-degree murder charge against the stepmother of an autistic teen who weighed 94 pounds and was covered in sores when he died of starvation and dehydration in December 2001.

The Kalamazoo Gazette, October 10, 2005

The $25 million wrongful-death suit filed by the family of a 15-year-old Parchment High School student with autism who died there on the first day of school in August 2003 has once again moved into mediation....

The suit states that on the day Michael died, he fainted at about 12:30 p.m. and became combative after regaining consciousness. Four school and KRESA employees restrained him by grabbing his limbs and holding him on the ground.

The employees, according to the suit, ignored his need for medical attention. An emergency call was made just before 2 p.m., but Michael could not be revived and was pronounced dead at Bronson Methodist Hospital.

The Cincinnati Enquirer, October 9, 2005

Jan Naylor of Springdale went under in the deep end on Sept. 29, and shot her 27-year-old autistic daughter, Sarah, to death, then set her house on fire and shot herself.

Gainesville.com, October 6, 2005

A Lake City caregiver turned herself in to Gainesville Police Tuesday and was arrested on charges of child neglect of an 11-year-old boy who has autism and cerebral palsy.

The boy was scalded with hot water while in a bath tub.

Sun-News of the Northland, October 6, 2005

One grant benefiting Clay and Platte families is the Children's TLC Easter Seals "Empowerment Project for Families with Special Needs Children." The $35,000 grant will help provide parent support for those raising children with autism or a severe behavioral disorder.

According to Children's Trust Fund, children with autism are seven times more likely to be abused than a non-disabled child.

The Guardian, September 24, 2005

Wendolyn Markcrow, 67, of Long Crendon, Buckinghamshire, pleaded guilty to manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility after the death in March of her third son, Patrick, 36, who was autistic and also had behavioural difficulties.

Anne said...

Ginger, you wrote:

"I don't mean to offend anyone who looks at autism as an 'alternative cognition' and feels it should not be cured if it can be, but I feel a little silly demonstrating how autism puts people at risk."

I just realized that you may have the idea that people who believe in autistic acceptance somehow don't know that it is dangerous to be autistic. If you believe that, you are seriously mistaken.

Check out Amanda Baggs' account of being institutionalized, and what it feels like to hear people say she doesn't know how hard it is to be autistic:
Past, Present and Future

Also Joel Smith's page dedicated to people who were killed for being autistic:
Murder of Autistics

Kathleen Seidel has some pages on very bad stuff that has happened to autistics:

Yes, autistic kids can wander off and be hit by cars or beaten by police like that kid in Northern California earlier this year. They can be killed at school, in institutions, and by their parents. They are often victims of abuse and neglect.

These risks are very real, and they are one reason why I think it is so important to try to change the view that autistic kids are not real people ("they stole my child and left a hollow shell"), that autistic adults are mental defectives who are so stupid that they don't know that "autism puts people at risk", and that an autistic life is not worth living.

Acceptance is not an abstract philosophical idea, it is a matter of survival.

Wade Rankin said...


As always, your points are excellent. But I don't think the need to better educate society on autism and to combat the ignorant notion that autistics are incapable of a fully human life is inconsistent with our desire to help our children overcome the obstacles that sometimes come with the autism package.

Ginger Taylor said...

I just realized that you may have the idea that people who believe in autistic acceptance somehow don't know that it is dangerous to be autistic. If you believe that, you are seriously mistaken.

I didn't believe that, but Kevin tried to make the point that treatment was not a good idea because it could change personality.

I was just making the point, that given a choice between a change in personality and living in an at risk state, I think making people more aware of harm and therefore safer from it, is worth the risk of personality change.

And as far as your point about teaching tolerance, I am with you 100%. I haven't discussed that because I thought it was a given.

Because Chandler is only 3 and is so loved and supported by our circle of friends and community, we have had to deal with very little intolerance. Except, of course, for the occasional funny look in the check out line, which I either use as a teaching moment for the curious, or just ignore with the rude because, who cares if my son is bothering them.

He is a typical private preschool, but it is my church's school, and my son went there last year, so he is already surrounded by friends. One of his cousins is even in his class.

The thought of elementary school makes me nauseous. Where will he be in his development? Will he be in a class with friends? Will he have a teacher who likes him? Will I be arrested for punching the first kid who bullies him? These are all questions that I have not broached yet as my boy has not confronted them yet.

So much of the issues that adult autistics struggle with are not on our radar screen yet. At this point I am focused on mitigating the disabling features of his autism so that his struggle with these issues will be as light as possible.

In the mean time, I feel like I am working in my sphere of influence to create an understanding of autism, but creating an understanding of Chandler.

We don't label him with kids, I his older brother doesn't even know the word 'autism'. To all the children in his life, school, church, his 7 cousins who live in the neighborhood, we just tell them that Chandler is a little bit different and doesn't talk very much. "He probably won't play with you like this... but if you want to play with him... try this..." And get them jumping up and down or dancing together or climbing or swinging or sliding.

Now when kids play imagination games, they work him into the play in a way that works for them. The kids will play Dora and go on an adventure, they declare that Chandler is the Teddy Bear and get excited when the Teddy comes into the room.

I feel like the best way that we can contribute to the 'tolerance' cause, is just to be normal with people and help them not to be intimidated by his 'strangeness'.

Because it has become so prevalent, I think that Chandler's generation will not have it as hard as those that have gone before him. As I have mentioned there are 3 ASD kids, each with an aid, in Chandler's preschool class. They all fit pretty seamlessly into the class. Chandler is particularly popular with the little girls.

You will get no argument from me that people need to be more tolerant. I am just not going to depend on the world being tolerant to Chandler.

Unknown said...

I wish police catch this white man and van, cause people are too worry that such incidents may repeat.
I think it will be a little bit complicated to find it, because there are so many white vans in South Raleigh.