There is a dangerous common misconception about children on the Autistic Spectrum, which leaves them open and vulnerable to physical and verbal attacks. Many people believe that children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder or ASD are a danger to society, but in reality ASD is a neurological disorder. Usually when a child with ASD acts aggressively it is caused by frustration due to his/her limitations from speech and sensory issues.
Speech from a child with ASD is usually limited so when the child cannot find the words, he/she gets frustrated from the lack of communication and has a tantrum.
Imagine how frustrated you get when trying to communicate with a person who speaks a different language. The ASD child feels the same frustration when Neurotypicals (NT’s) don’t understand, which can lead to a meltdown. The ASD child can also experience sensory overload if there is too much activity which can lead to a tantrum. He/she doesn’t have the filters like a NT so the child cannot block out the flurry of noise and activity.
I am finding that more and more each day, children with ASD are being scrutinized for their behaviour. Is this fair when each day neurotypical children take pleasure in hurting other children, especially those with special needs? The special needs child is often targeted because he/she is innocent and trusting, doesn’t understand the social cues and demonstrates behaviour people view as weird, such as stimming. Why doesn’t society view the behaviour of the NT bully as warning flags for the future rather than analyse the tantrum of a frustrated special needs child?
Given certain current events, the media has been flooded with stories of mass murderers. Society is searching for answers as to what causes this behaviour.
As a result of these events, there has been a backlash against people in the special needs community. If a child with special needs says or does something society deems inappropriate, his/her parents are immediately contacted. The professional, whether it is a teacher or counselor, suggests that the child may have deeper issues and the parents should seek help for the child. After the unimaginable tragedies at Sandy Hook Elementary, I overheard a woman blaming autism. She said that he had snapped and decided to “blow them away” because he was autistic. No normal person could do such a thing.
My child, with ASD, has been the victim of these NTs on more than one occasion. The incidents have ranged from name calling to aggressive hostile behavior. In fact, a few of them have gone so far as to try and drown my child in the pool at camp, because my child stims and confuses his words. My sweet non- violent child has made the choice not to fight back because in his words, “that’s what bullies and bad boys do, not good boys”. But if my child decides to fight back, then he is questioned and looked upon in a negative light, all because he has ASD.
I ask you who is the real danger, my ASD child who will occasionally have a tantrum or these NT bullies who willing tried to hurt my child repeatedly?
Opinions expressed by Autism Daily Newscast Contributors are their own.
Thanks to guest contributor Linda Flood for her contribution to Voices on the spectrum. If you would like your voice heard please send us a 500 word article to firstname.lastname@example.org.