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People with Autism Especially Vulnerable




Perhaps like you, recently I read of an incident in Okeechobee, Florida, in which an 18-year-old man was recorded on video beating, choking, kicking, and holding a knife to the throat of a 16-year-old boy with autism. It made national news.

The National Institutes of Health defines autism spectrum disorder as "a range of complex neurodevelopment disorders, characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties, and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior." Due to lacking social skills, children with autism are at risk of being bullied or abused.

As an experiment, I recently Googled "autistic boy 2014" to see what I would find. Besides a number of internet "missing autistic boy" articles, I found many disturbing newspaper and TV stories about boys with autism being bullied or abused. (I placed "autistic" into Google because most media outlets still refer to children with autism as "autistic"; and "boy" because 80 percent of people with autism are male.)

Here's a sampling of what I found for 2014.

  • In Maryland, two teenage girls faced sentencing after holding a butcher's knife to the throat of a 16-year-old boy with autism and luring him onto a half-frozen pond until he broke through. They refused to help. They recorded the incident on a cellphone.
  • Two California parents were arrested for rooming their 11-year-old son in a large dog kennel.
  • A New York City paraprofessional punched an 11-year-old boy with autism in a school cafeteria. Police, after watching video, charged the paraprofessional with felony assault, endangering a minor's welfare, menacing, and harassment. The boy had spilled water, and had not understood the paraprofessional's request to clean it up.
  • A Michigan teacher verbally mocked in class a 10-year-old male student with autism stuck in a chair. She recorded the incident on her cellphone.
  • In Texas, three teens robbed at gunpoint, beat, and knocked down a 17-year-old boy with autism.
  • Recorded on video in a Walmart parking lot, a Florida man was arrested on child abuse charges for beating with closed fist a nonverbal, 13-year-old boy with autism.
  • Also in Florida, and on video, a special education school bus driver was arrested on child abuse charges for repeatedly slapping across the face a 10-year-old boy with autism physically restrained in a harness while on the bus.

Remember, people of all ages with autism are especially vulnerable. If you witness an incident, do the right thing. Immediately report it.







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LittleGiantFudge.com and Palmer Bus Service make this column possible.

Daniel J. Vance is a licensed professional counselor and national certified counselor from Vernon Center, Minn. His weekly newspaper column Disabilities has been published in more than 260 newspapers.

Daniel J. Vance may be reached at www.danieljvance.com



Placer County News Headlines

Roseville Charity Hearts that Care Partners with Placer SUIOn December 17th, 2014, The Placer County Special Investigation Unit (SIU), a Placer County Law Enforcement Task Force comprised of State and local Placer County law enforcement

Roseville Crime Report Digest Update (12.19.14)Crime report digest update for Roseville California, December 19, 2014

Food for 400,000 Meals Raised for Placer Food BankThunder Valley Casino Resort and Whitney Oaks Golf Club have collected over 50,000 pounds of food for Placer Food Bank food drive.

Rocklin Man Victim of Elder Abuse and ID TheftLaura Kirkwood, 23 years old of Sacramento, was arrested and booked at the Placer County Jail on suspicion of elder abuse and ID theft of a 74 year old Rocklin man.

Shocking Find in Colfax Storage Unit: Human RemainsA woman called the Placer County Sheriff's Office to report a foul odor coming from an abandoned storage unit that she had just purchased through an auction

Napa Valley's New Year's Eve Bash in CalistogaCome celebrate the New Year with the return of Celebrate! Napa Valley's New Year's Eve Bash on Dec. 31, 2014 at 10 p.m. in Calistoga, Calif.

Murders by Guns Continue Declining, Suicides On RiseWhile the overall death rate from firearm violence has remained unchanged for more than a decade, the patterns for suicide and homicide have changed dramatically

Sutter Health Donates to Placer Food Bank Roseville, Calif., - One in six people in California go hungry, including many in Placer County. To help provide meals for those in need, Sutter Health provided a donation

Nobel Prize Winner to Speak at MIND InstituteThomas C. Sdhof, recipient of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine, will address his research on how defects in a 'glue' that binds together proteins at the neuronal synapses may play a role in the etiology of autism spectrum disorder

New Low Down Payment Mortgages: As Low As 3 PercentRoseville Realtor, Julie Jalone of MagnumOne Realty, writes about new low down payment loans being backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Top 10 Measures Likely for 2016 California BallotThe General Election ballot in 2016 is likely to have more statewide ballot measures on it than California voters have seen in a long time.

Roseville Police Make Arrests in Date Rape Drug InvestigationDetectives from Roseville's Vice and Narcotics Enforcement Team (VNET) are investigating regional sales of a synthetic narcotic drug similar to GHB, better known as the "date-rape drug


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