I am watching this case with vested interest. I have an 11-year-old child on the autism spectrum, and a case like this raises many concerns. The only information I have regarding this case are from blog postings and news articles from both sides, but reading the commentary from people seemingly without children on the autism spectrum has me concerned about the repercussions such a case will have if it’s allowed to go forward, and how devastating the outcome will be if the plaintiffs actually win.
Perhaps the parents were over their heads when it came to dealing with an aggressive child.
Let me preface by saying that I do think that the parents of the child involved are partially to blame for the entire situation. Hindsight is 20/20, but often parents are caught in the trap of excusing unacceptable behavior, because they feel that their children “cannot help it” if they behave a certain way. Despite parental opinion, children with autism are capable of learning acceptable behavior, they need to be disciplined (albeit perhaps in a different manner than typical children), and they are capable of a lot more than most people give them credit for. The child in question was obviously not monitored properly, and perhaps the parents were over their heads when it came to dealing with an aggressive child.
My biggest fear, besides actually being sued, is being ostracized in our next community because of fear based on assumptions people make regarding autism, and my son’s other co-morbid conditions. It scares me that I may soon have to disclose his diagnosis to my neighbors and landlords, and it scares me even more that they might preclude me from living in a neighborhood. Will having a child on the autism spectrum eventually cause my homeowners/renters insurance to go up? When I introduce him to the neighbors will I have say, “Yes he has autism, but don’t worry he is only violent on very rare cases, and only towards me?” Will I have to explain every tantrum and every vocalization? What about when he is blamed for things that happen in the neighborhood?
One of the children in another neighborhood was causing damage to neighbor’s homes, and the damage was blamed on my son. How do I defend my child without appearing overly defensive? How will a case like this affect children like mine accepted into mainstream environments in schools? Right now, there is a stigma against children on the spectrum. With this case, and others, children with autism are written off as violent offenders, and parents are often seen as ineffective at best and criminally negligent at worst.
Will I have to explain every tantrum and every vocalization?
Many Kind Regards,
original image source: Ruth Tsang via flickr