This kind of abuse has become very normal for children and adults with autism in the public school system, residential centers and by many hired caregivers. How are we supposed to keep our children and adults with autism safe in a world that does not understand them and is quick to abuse them? And most abusers get away with it.
Autistic man beaten by caregiver highlights increasing safety issues
April 10, 2013http://www.examiner.com/article/autistic-man-beaten-by-caregiver-highlights-increasing-safety-issues
Autism parents often worry about how teachers, counselors, and other caregivers treat their children when mom or dad isn't around. This is especially true for parents of nonverbal kids, who are unable to advocate for themselves in many situations. The nightmare of abuse at the hands of caregivers was realized by one family this week. NBC 7 news in San Diego reported on April 8, that a man accused of abusing an autistic patient began his trial for the alleged crimes.
The man stands accused of beating a 23-year-old autistic man left in his care while the parents were out of town. The alleged victim in this case is non-verbal and engages in self-injurious behavior. A camera in the home captured footage of the abuse, and reportedly captured 2,000 images of violence against the young man. His mother reported that there are typically five caregivers in the home to help take care of his needs. The 50-year-old caregiver faces seven felony counts of abuse in the case. Another man has also been accused in the alleged abuse.
Parents have been increasingly concerned about the treatment that autistic children receive while in school or with other caregivers. The National Autism Association estimates that more than 200 students have died within the last five years due to restraints used in schools. Currently, no federal regulations exist to protect children from restraint practices that interfere with the ability to breathe. A study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania shows that over 18 percent of children with autism have been physically abused.
With such staggering statistics, it may seem difficult for parents of autistic children to know how to protect against abuse and restraint. Cameras, such as those used by the parents of the 23-year-old in San Diego, are a good starting point. Social stories can also be used to help children anticipate dangerous scenarios, and can help to communicate if they have experienced something similar. Parents should communicate with teachers and caregivers regularly. If it is possible, unannounced visits to schools can help to comfort the child and give parents peace of mind.
When it comes to autistic children who can't communicate abuse, parents must be vigilant to prevent abuse. Even the most seasoned caregivers can become frustrated with some children, but it is never an excuse for harming a child.