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For every norm, there is a deviation.

 

This is a very biased article.  I'm sure if the kid were asked to explain things, it would sound quite different.  That wouldn't make what he did right, but it would provide more insight into his thought processes than this does.

 

I'm just barely autistic, but I know know all too well the feeling of being a square peg being forced through a round hole.  I had my bouts of rage, etc.  I never got diagnosed as autistic until I was already in treatment for ADD and mood issues, but I can relate to a lot of the stories I hear from people further down the spectrum.

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My son has high functioning ASD. And BP disorder. That article makes me think that somewhere along the way her son developed a mood disorder or something, conduct disorder, I don't know. It's common for ASD people to have comorbid diagnoses. I don't like how the article calls it a monster or that it's just Autism that made those teens do that. They don't know why.

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S1 has ADHD and bipolar and is possibly on the autism spectrum.  He does have rages.  He is 12, and they have in the last year, gotten more frequent, although frankly he never really outgrew them from the 3 year old tantrum stage.  He is only 70 pounds, so he as yet can't really do any damage.  On the advice of his pdoc, we put him on Vyvanse, Celexa and Abilify.  The drug documentation for Abilify says that it is specifically given to kids his age who have rages from ASD or BP.  I have seen a reduction in the length of the rages, but he still has them.  They are more like what I assume to be typical teenage hormone things.  He, on his own, voluntarily apologizes and makes up for them afterwards.  My biggest fear is that he does the things this kid in this article does.  I am trying to cut it off at the pass.

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From the article:

 

"The chairman of Trudy Steuernagel’s department rose at her memorial service to proclaim, “Autism doesn’t equal violence.” And this probably is mathematically correct: Autism does not always equal violence. But I do believe there may be a tragic, blameless relationship. Neither Sky nor Andrew means to be murderous — of this I am sure — but their circumstances, neurology, size and age combine to create the perfect storm."

 

I was much more violent when I was younger, though I never directed my rage outward at anything alive. I did do myself a fair amount of harm sometimes. But I am a small female, not a large male, and if I had turned on those around me I would have been easy to subdue.

 

What this article really reminds me of is the friend my grandparents lost to Alzheimer's. I remember him vividly from when I was little. He was a lovely, gentle man, so delighted with his incredible train set...it took up all of the sun porch on the second story of their house, looking out over the Atlantic ocean. All the little towns and mountains and trees and people...

 

But he got Alzheimer's quite young, and it killed him very slowly, and in that time he seemed to regress. He became very violent toward the end, and he was 6'4" and strong. His beloved wife of 50+ years, for whom he asked day and night, couldn't be left alone with him.

 

Circumstances, neurology, and size.

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I had more rage episodes as a child.  As an adult they seem connected to my mood disorder more than anything.  Overstimulation can lead to me feeling on the edge of something, but I know how to de-escalate that so it doesn't explode.  But I'm at a 'high functioning' end of the spectrum.

 

To me it really seems a combination of possible co-morbid diagnoses, and... just other things.  It can be frustrating to not be able to communicate the things that you want to, or to be communicating them yet not having others listen.  I can get very angry when others seem to be invalidating what I say/communicate, at times, and immensely frustrated when I can't talk or have that halfway can't talk thing.

 

I've seen a similar thing with alzheimer's and my grandfather too.  Not physical violence but he'd always been a more gentle sort of person, as his illness progressed he became verbally enraged more easily and the sort.

 

I do think the stories of the negative have importance of being out there, just like the good.  But I'm far more interested in the viewpoint from these "monsters" themselves rather than the people around them.  Because I don't like being caged.  Powerful stuff.

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I read this whole article, and I thought I kept an open mind on the authors point of view. But after reading the article and understanding what was going on, I am not opened minded to the goal of this writer. Which is very well stated.

 

A few questionable points of this article:

  1. The news about the woman who died under her autistic sons hand (to which is the articles inspiration), had severe autism and was unable to speak or understand language which was a different circumstance than of her own son
  2. The diagnosis the doctor gave the woman about her son Andrew, was not just "autism" but also "someone in pain" and not having any other illness
  3. However even though the only diagnosis for Andrew was High Functioning Autism, the plan of treatment for him was not only medications like AAPs and "high-dosages" of Prozac (which can be usual), but also ECT and Lupron (which is a medication which slows down testosterone, and is usually used to treat prostrate cancer for men); which is not exactly the most customary treatment for the higher population of HF-ASD people.

 

 

Mine ("legacy"), I decide, must be in part to break the silence about autism’s darker side. We cannot solve this problem by hiding it, the way handicapped children themselves used to be tucked away in cellars. In order to help the young men who endure this rage, someone has to be willing to tell the truth.

 

I find this almost comical. Mostly to the part that the reason for people with handicaps being "tucked away in cellars" is because of embarrassment of the family members because of stigma. And even though, yes people with autism can be violent & murder, but no more than any other human being. And honestly, advocating on the silence of autisms "darker side" seemingly causes more stigma than breaks; or atleast IMHO.

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I felt sad for both the mother and son in that story.

 

I can understand why autism seems like a 'mysterious' entity for non-autistic people because it can be hard to communicate when you have autism. It's a fairly isolating condition a lot of times, and the best description I have for my own experiences is that it's akin to living without filters for the world and absorbing everything. How can you describe what's going on if everything  seems to be happening at the same time? 

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I find that article biased as well, although I do not doubt that aggression happens in autism.  I also know parents whose child is aggressive. 

 

But how much of the meltdown is actually anger and not through frustration and a lack of ability to cope further has not been addressed.  I still tend to meltdown but it's always through an inability to cope and getting frustrated, which a lot of people (including MH professionals) do not understand. 

 

From that article I can see many reasons why the aggression could have occurred and if any of them were addressed early on then it wasn't mentioned in that article. It is also notable that adolescence can cause it's own behavioural problems. 

 

What is also not mentioned is the fact that in ANY form of behaviour can be an attempt to communicate.  Whether or not there is an obvious problem with language and it is a case of finding out why that behaviour occurs, and how to change it. Just because people can speak and speak well it doesn't mean there is not a problem with communication (especially in terms of AS and HFA).  It certainly does not mean a person can understand spoken language. 

Edited by helenllama
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I find that article biased as well, although I do not doubt that aggression happens in autism.  I also know parents whose child is aggressive. 

 

But how much of the meltdown is actually anger and not through frustration and a lack of ability to cope further has not been addressed.  I still tend to meltdown but it's always through an inability to cope and getting frustrated, which a lot of people (including MH professionals) do not understand. 

 

From that article I can see many reasons why the aggression could have occurred and if any of them were addressed early on then it wasn't mentioned in that article. It is also notable that adolescence can cause it's own behavioural problems. 

 

What is also not mentioned is the fact that in ANY form of behaviour can be an attempt to communicate.  Whether or not there is an obvious problem with language and it is a case of finding out why that behaviour occurs, and how to change it. Just because people can speak and speak well it doesn't mean there is not a problem with communication (especially in terms of AS and HFA).  It certainly does not mean a person can understand spoken language. 

 

^^^^^^^ All of this, seriously.

 

And what Reverse the Polarity said as well.  Like experiencing the world without any filters, experiencing everything.

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  • 3 months later...

Really late responding to this, but a few years ago after reading this, I tracked down multiple articles of Ann Bauer's and found that there were other factors at work that weren't apparent in that article - such as the medications her son was on, how they changed his demeanor, that he underwent ECT, etc. She makes it seem like autism is the only applicable factor, but her other articles point to other possibilities.

 

http://www.salon.com/2007/05/18/autism_misdiagnosis/

 

Also this article:

 

http://www.salon.com/2007/06/19/electroshock/

 

And more recently, this article:

 

http://www.salon.com/2012/03/30/the_new_autism_reality/

 

which presents her son and autism in a more positive light.

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