Autism, Child Abuse and Neglect
by Darlene Barriere
(Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada)
Parents of autistic children have been fighting the provincial governments in Canada for years over getting subsidized specialized care for their autistic children.
Parents have fought in the courts, and have even won the right to have specialized care paid for by the medical system, but the governments of the day continue to pay little or no heed to the rulings. This non-compliance is short-sighted and neglectful. The "neglect" has left parents to foot the very expensive bills required to help care for and treat their autistic children. All too often parents cannot afford, and therefore do not supply the specialized interaction, integration and behavioural therapies required. This puts their autistic children at even greater risk for child abuse, including physical, emotional and sexual abuse at the hands of teachers, students and adults in the child's life, as these people attempt to "make the child conform" or punish them for not conforming.
Autism is a developmental disability that changes the way the brain processes information. It adversely affects social interaction, behavioural and communication skills. Autism is the most common neurological disorder affecting children and it is one of the most common developmental disabilities that affect Canadians. Autistic children are unique and each of them responds and behaves differently, even though they may share the same diagnosis.
Symptoms of autism often do not appear during the first few months after birth, but are generally evident by the age of 3. They include repetitious behaviour that parents often describe as the child being in their "own world"; lack of eye contact with people; and low attention span for human interaction.
Children with autism often have unusual ways of learning. They have difficulty paying attention. They react to sensations in ways that non-afflicted people do not understand. They have difficulty determining facial expressions of others.
Disabilities among autistic children vary from gifted to severely challenged—10% of autistic children are so gifted they are considered "autistic savants." Boys are four times more likely to be afflicted with autism than girls. Families with one child afflicted with autism have a 20% chance of having a second child afflicted. Parenting methods DOES NOT cause autism.
Autism crosses all racial, ethnic and socio-economic thresholds. Children with autism are much more likely to be to be bullied and harassed by their peers. There is no cure for autism.
There are those who oppose the various treatments listed in the first paragraph above, citing that they are abusive in and of themselves. This position is evident on the comments page directed at this article; the link is just below.