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Washington Post Breaks Taboo and Reports Honestly on Autism and Aggression

Posted Mar 13 2011 1:53am
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.
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