Abuse of Autistic People

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Susan Comerford Wzorek, 54, a Northeastern Educational Intermediate Unit teacher from Clarks Summit, was charged Tuesday with two counts of child endangerment. She allegedly tied autistic students to wooden support chairs with bungee cords and duct tape, stepped on their feet, pulled hair and pinched and slapped students.
Scranton Times
This report describes the nature and extent of abuse and neglect perpetrated against eople with developmental disabilities and identifies systemic issues that underlie the increased risk for victimization of this population.
Tarjan Center for Developmental Disabilities at UCLA
In the case of autism abusers, the abuser may adhere to the myth that the autistic has no real human feelings, and so it is okay to abuse the autistic.
Stan P.
The father of an autistic teenager has sued a substitute teacher in Fort Wayne, in the American state of Indiana, claiming the teacher tied the boy to a door with a computer cord and taped his mouth shut.
AutismConnect
Abuse of people with disabilities, like all forms of abuse, is an abuse of power and control. Abuse is anything that causes harm to an individual. Abuse can be physical, sexual, psychological/emotional, or economic/financial.
People's Law School
Those with disabilities and families are not prepared psychologically, intellectually or physically to resist or respond to abuse.
North Carolina Governor's Advocacy Council for Persons with Disabilities
John and Karen Tedeman, whose son, Scott, attended the school for 14 years, allege in a civil lawsuit that behind closed doors, Higashi teachers used brutal techniques that resulted in years of unexplained bruises and abrasions.
Ellen Barry, Boston Globe
Unnecessary hospitalization, failure to hospitalize, inadequate evaluation, inadequate treatment, failure to protect from harm, restraint/seclusion, medication, sexual abuse, negligent supervision or release, failure to warn, etc.
Steven J. Schwartz, Center for Public Representation
Timothy Kabura, 31, of Chelsea, was arrested Thursday on two assault and battery charges, one with a weapon, Winthrop police said. He was a former employee at the home. 34-year-old Mary Elizabeth Morrow was hospitalized with facial injuries.
BostonChannel
The asylum request rested on the premise that the child was widely seen in his native Pakistan as a freak of nature, afflicted with an evil spirit or demon, rather than as a human being suffering from some disease that could be treated.
US Visa Counsel
The alleged mistreatment included prohibiting "troublemaker" patients from speaking, including one who wanted to complain about water in the shower being too hot; preventing patients from moving freely...
Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, Jerusalem Post
"ASA is well aware of the difficulties families of individuals with autism face with chronic and dangerous wandering. As with Alzheimer's disease, persons with autism may wander into danger, often with tragic results," said ASA President and CEO Lee Grossman. "To address the issue, parents sometimes sleep in shifts; may resort to locks, bars and electronic warning systems; and are even reported for or accused of neglect, resulting in their children being placed in temporary foster care while they scramble to defend their actions in court. Yet, certainly no one could ever suggest that a child or adult be kept in a wooden cage to sleep in. Not for any reason or under any circumstances," he concluded.
PRNewswire
The Autism Truth and Justice Commission aims to document the abuse of autistic persons and to propose specific practical solutions to the abuses it documents.
Aims to document the abuse of autistic persons and to propose specific practical solutions to the abuses it documents.
The 13-year-old boy died October 8 in a west Columbus group home for autistic children -- less than 48 hours after being placed there by Children Services... Why then was he left alone to die in a bathtub in 12 inches of water?
WBNS
Michael and Terri Pigford are suing Jackson Public Schools, alleging the teacher's aide, Magill Jones, "negligently and with force" injured their then 20-year-old son, Jacob Pigford, who was a special education student at Forest Hill High School.
Parents United Together
My son has been in the prison hole now for over four years. He should really be in a hospital. He's autistic and I was told by James Thomas of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections ('DOC') 'we don't know what to do with him!'
Anonymous Mother
I know I sound melodramatic but I lye awake some times at night thinking what it would be like to be a non-autistic person? I dont care if I sound melodramatic!
XxKamikazixX
People with autistic spectrum disorders are not victims of autism, they are victims of society. They do not suffer from their developmental differences, they suffer from prejudice, ignorance, lack of understanding, exploitation, verbal abuse - all this and more from that sector of society which considers itself socially able.
Grace Hewson
Definition of problem; on autism and vulnerability of autistic persons; risk factors for family abuse; dangers of psychoanalysis; institutional abuse; violence prevention in general and within the family; need for training; pharmacological abuse.
Anne-Sophie Parent, Autism Europe
A fellow nurse allegedly saw Jachino choke an autistic resident with a bed sheet, court reports indicate. Upon being caught, Jachino allegedly then slapped the resident on the cheeks several times to revive him.
Leslie Williams, The Courier
Many of the residents in social care homes for children and adults visited appeared to have classical autism, but their condition was unrecognized, and so their very special needs went unaddressed too.
Amnesty International
A Lake City caregiver turned herself in to Gainesville Police Tuesday and was arrested on charges of child neglect of an 11-year-old boy who has autism and cerebral palsy. The boy was scalded with hot water while in a bath tub. Johnson told police she left the boy alone in a bath tub for 10 minutes to throw away a diaper he had soiled and to speak to her friend. When she came back, the boy had turned on the hot water and had severe burns to 30 percent of his body, police said. Johnson told police she rushed the boy to the hospital.
Gainesville Sun
McClain pleaded guilty to one second-degree count of bias intimidation of a person based on his handicap and one second-degree count of aggravated assault. McClain had worked at the Devereux Center for Autism for two years, according to court records. She told investigators the victim hadn't followed her instructions in the past.
James deWeese, Press of Atlantic City
Okay... child abuse is common. Really common. Not universal, but common. Child abuse is more common towards disabled children. Yet in talking about child abuse towards disabled children, or autistic children, we're supposed to tiptoe around and control our wording so as not to offend parents... it seems that in the autism fantasy-world, no parent abuses their children and it is a taboo subject because that would be (gasp) questioning the parenting choices of another parent. Well, guess what? This is why child abuse laws exist in many countries. Because some "parenting choices" are not okay.
Ballastexistenz
Our central mission is to provide a national/international support network for parents whose children (including adult children) have been traumatized, injured or killed by abusive behavior modification (ABA) and restraint.
Hamilton, who suffered severe head trauma allegedly inflicted by his unlicensed counselor and Achieving a Better Life employee Michelle Bott-Graham, died Dec. 5 at Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City. The care center was shut down Nov. 30 by Chubbuck officials for day care ordinance violations, including ABL's failure to perform a background check that would have revealed a 2003 felony drug conviction that cost Bott-Graham, 39, of Pocatello, her counseling license. Bott-Graham returned an unresponsive Hamilton to ABL Nov. 29 after treating him for autism at her Pocatello home. Hamilton was taken to Portneuf Medical Center and then Salt Lake City, where he later died.
Pocatello State Journal
The following comic illustrates the cycle by which a person is subjected to forced and damaging 'treatment' by being told they're too sick to make decisions for themselves...
Amanda Baggs
Although it was indeed Andrew’s devoted family who constantly stood up for his needs and rights, they were at almost every turn ignored or sidelined by the very people who have a statutory duty to support him and to take his family’s views into account.
Times Online
The disabled woman, identified in court papers only as J.D.S., was raped in late 2002 while living in a DCF-licensed group home in Orlando. She gave birth to a healthy daughter in August that year.
Cook noted the potential for parents and caretakers of autistic children to perceive the impairments of the child as a blow to their self-esteem, a narcissistic injury that calls up feelings of inadequacy in the parent or caretaker.
Lynne M. Sinclair
in 1994, Shannon complained that she had been raped again. This time a male (FMA Inc.) staff member was suspended, then fired when he failed a lie-detector test. But he was never charged, because prosecutors thought Shannon could not testify in court.
Reynolds Holding
Rates of violence and abuse perpetrated on people with developmental disabilities (e.g., mental retardation, autism) appear significantly higher than for people without these disabilities. Few of these crimes get reported to police, and even fewer are prosecuted because officials hesitate to pursue cases that rely on the testimony of a person with a developmental disability. The author offers several conceptual models to explain their differential victimization risk, including routine activities theory, dependency-stress model, cultural stereotyping, and victim-learned compliance. This article summarizes the research evidence on crimes against children and adults with developmental disabilities. It is divided into four sections. The first section describes the nature and extent of crimes against individuals with developmental disabilities. The second reviews the literature on risk factors associated with their victimization. The third discusses the manner in which justice agencies respond to these crimes. The final section enumerates what research and policy initiatives might address the problem.
Joan R. Petersilia
The new industry attracted operators who saw it as a way to wield power, and many applied their own unique brand of "behavior modification" therapy, from slaps (to) isolation, to the electronic stinging of autistic children with a cattle prod.
Rick Thoma
Those most difficult to reach are those who are very bright and have a lot of talent because on the surface everything is normal.
Machou
When deputies removed 11 disabled children from a northern Ohio home where they were made to sleep in cages, the adoptive parents didn't seem to see anything wrong with the children's treatment, authorities said. "The impression that we got was that they felt it was OK," said Huron County sheriff's Lt. Randy Sommers told The (Lorain) Morning Journal.
MSNBC
Chip's treatment begins in the clean room, where he'll basically go through detox. He will live in the room for one year, and Tate will spend all waking hours with him. They will wear 100 percent organic cotton clothing without elastic or zippers. And because Chip's body will be releasing toxins, Tate will wash his mouth with hydrogen peroxide every half hour and bathe him in it every 90 minutes. "This all makes sense to me," she said. "I have tried everything else. All the traditional treatments."
Kayley Mendenhall, Bozeman Daily Chronicle
64% of the children who were maltreated had a disability. Children with mental retardation were the most severely abused. Children with communication disorders were more likely to be physically and sexually abused.
Margaret Charlton, Matthew Kliethermes, National Child Traumatic Stress Network Adapted Trauma Treatment Standards Work Group
Imagine a place where children with biologically based brain disorders or mental illness were taken from their families just because the parents couldn't afford adequate treatment for their son or daughter. this is exactly what is happening in the USA.
Adelle Jameson Tilton
Advocates for the human and civil rights of people with disabilities and is dedicated to eliminating the tortures of restraints and aversives currently perpetrated on many people with disabilities in New Jersey facilities.
It took state and federal judges two years to decide if a Mingo County family's claim that their autistic son had been abused had merit. It took a Kanawha County jury two hours to reach the same conclusion.
Chris Stirewalt, Daily Mail
A former security guard who sexually abused a vulnerable teenage boy was already a convicted sex offender, it has been revealed. Tony Hallam, 53, had been convicted of sex assaults on young boys in 1969 and 1971 but went on to obtain a job as a security officer working at the Norwich headquarters of the EDP publisher Archant.
EDP 24
(A) former employee... tried to inform center officials about another worker who would scratch residents' hands and then pour Listerine on the wounds to watch them scream. She said the same worker would lean over residents' wheelchairs, pretend to joke with them and then punch them... A second worker... saw residents kicked, hit and their heads slammed against the floor.
Associated Press
It is alleged the woman, who is now resident in another psychiatric hospital in a different health board area, was raped by five fellow patients in a mixed ward at the Midlands Health Board hospital over the 11-year period.
Patsy McGarry, Irish Times
DOE letter reminding schools, colleges and universities that prompt action must be taken if harassment of a student based on disability interferes with the student's ability to participate in or benefit from the school's program.
U.S. Department of Education
In this issue of Impact we examine violence as it impacts women with developmental and other disabilities -- what we know, what we don't know, and what needs to be done to prevent it and to help women recover from it.
Institute on Community Integration (UCEDD) and the Research and Training Center on Community Living, College of Education and Human Development, University of Minnesota
The child who has received multiple institutional placements combined with profound neglect and abuse on a wide scale level is the "regression factor" or the child who "disintegrates" and loses motor, sensory, speech and language, and intellectual skills.
Ronald S. Federici
The issue of major concern is how does a society recruit otherwise decent and compassionate people for destructive purposes? By employing self-absolving practices, moral people can be led to behave destructively without self-condemnation.
Albert Bandura
Violent crime is experienced by people with developmental and other severe disabilities at a rate nearly five times greater than the general population. And far too often these crimes go unreported and unpunished.
Victims of Crime Committee of the Criminal Justice Task Force for Persons with Developmental Disabilities
In 1992, an Australian man with no qualification in the field of autism began a campaign to discredit Donna Williams. He took his obsession to the media and pursued her for years. He sought a public debate on the question: is Donna Williams autistic?
Donna Williams
The horror stories of what parents have done -- or what they have allowed to happen -- to their daughters and sons occur most often when they have abdicated their common sense and parental love in favor of professional opinion.
Weiss, Nancy
The parents of a 10-year-old girl with an autism-like disorder were awarded $700,000 by a federal jury that found the girl's special education teacher physically abused the child. Eisenhower Elementary School teacher Karen Miller was accused of rubbing a burrito in Paige's face and hair, kicking the child, and pushing her on the floor and sitting on her in incidents in 2001 and 2002 when the girl was 7 years old.
San Jose Mercury News
The Lake Elsinore station of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a report of child abuse that allegedly occurred in the Autism Program at Cottonwood Canyon Elementary School. The report was filed on August 30 by Ace Atkinson, the executive director of Area Board 12 of the State Council on Developmental Disabilities. Atkinson is a mandated reporter who filed the report after Elizabeth Gregory, who witnessed the child abuse, came forward and told him and the Valley News her story.
Laurie Rathbun, Valley News
Boston Higashi's success comes amid a number of complaints that the school's treatment practices have led to abuse. Since 1995, police and various Massachusetts agencies have received at least 17 abuse complaints against school staff.
Wall Street Journal
My hope is to share the many POSITIVE aspects of autism. It may not be your idea of normal, but to me it is, and .. one day it might just touch your life.
Autty
Parents of children born with mental disability are often recommended to give up their child to state care at birth. If the parents agree, they sign a document giving up their legal rights as parents.
Amnesty International
Troy Premus was supposed to provide companionship when he moved in with the autistic Charles Harrop. Instead Premus withdrew more than $7,000 from the reclusive Bethlehem Township man's bank account.
Rudy Miller
Detective Rick Salcedo, the lead sex-crimes detective on the case, said that Hester Strong had been charged because she had failed to give J.D.S. pre-natal care and should have noticed her pregnancy earlier.
AWARES
Hallam, now of Julian Road, Caister, near Yarmouth, was convicted at Norwich Crown Court of two counts of indecent assault on the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, and one of inciting him to commit an act of gross indecency. He was cleared of one indecent assault and one of gross indecency with the boy. He had denied all charges. Sentencing him, Judge Daniel Worsley told him he had befriended the boy and said: "I have no doubt that you were motivated by a desire to abuse him if you had the chance. He and his parents trusted you."
EDP24
Where ABA needs scrutiny is when its power is used to remove odd behaviours which may be useful and necessary to the autistic... and when typical, expected behaviours which may be stressful, painful, or useless to the autistic... are imposed.
Michelle Dawson
Historically, groups excluded from the whole public discourse about themselves--the social, legal, political, and ethical discourse--have the worst and most expensive outcomes.
Michelle Dawson
Helping people work with people, not on them.
The girl was led by the arm behind a stage curtain in the auditorium. There, witnesses said her lip was bloodied and she was sexually assaulted by a group of boys, an attack videotaped by one student and watched by more than a dozen others who came running as word spread. Within minutes, the developmentally disabled girl reported the alleged assault to a special education teacher, who said the girl "looked dazed and confused and was crying." But principals didn't immediately notify police for fear of media attention, in violation of state law. When the girl's father arrived, he was asked not to call 911. He ignored the request and called police.
Associated Press
The restraints they put on our minds can last for long after our bodies are untied and sent home. We must not forget this, or those who come after us will live in the clean, beautiful, sanitized hell that haunts my nightmares.
Amanda Baggs
A Fort Wayne woman wants Fort Wayne Community Schools officials to explain how a 16-year-old girl, who is mildly mentally impaired, was involved in sexual activity inside a Wayne High School classroom while a teacher and two aides were present.
Jennifer L. Boen and Charlie Roduta, Fort Wayne News Sentinel
The parents of a developmentally disabled, autistic boy filed a federal lawsuit Monday accusing HISD of covering up an investigation into allegations that he was sodomized during a summer school program two years ago.
Harvey Rice, Houston Chronicle
In 1987, the DisAbled Women's Network (D.A.W.N.) of Canada conducted a survey of 245 women with disabilities and found that 40% had been abused and 12% had been raped.
Leslie Myers
It is distressing for anyone to have a burglar break in and steal stuff. When that happens to an autistic child, the results may go far beyond the simple loss of property.
Wampum: Progressive Politics, Indian Issues, and Autism Advocacy
Aversive treatment is under seige at Poland's autism centers thanks to a dedicated group of mothers and professionals seeking humane treatment for autistic children.
Children Injured by Restraint and Aversives
The ministry's inspection committee found, among other infractions, that members of the staff dressed one of the patients in women's underwear, forced other patients to eat their meals off the floor and forbade patients to speak or move as punishments.
Jonathan Lin, Haaretz Daily
A therapist accused of molesting brain-damaged children at a long-term care hospital pleaded not guilty Friday afternoon. Wayne Bleyle, 54, of Santee, was arrested Wednesday. He is accused of molesting and taking pornographic photographs of children under his care at the Children's Rehabilitation Hospital. He has worked as a respiratory therapist for the hospital the last 10 years.
MSNBC
Discusses how to begin discussions about abuse; establish a frame for those discussions based on respect; get a sense of the person's affective state at the time of the incident(s) and at present; and identify coping and defense mechanisms.
Nancy Razza
Juvenile Justice guards allegedly assigned a teen sex offender to bathe and change a severely mentally retarded boy, who police say was then raped by the offender. Two other teens in the detention center reported they twice saw the disabled boy being raped by 17-year-old Lee Donton, a convicted sex offender. One of the assaults was in a shower area, where Donton was assigned to bathe the boy, and the other in the 15-year-old disabled boy's cell, where Donton was changing the boy's diaper, according to police reports.
Bradenton Herald
Texas City police are awaiting the return of forensic evidence gathered as part of the investigation into the alleged rape of a 5-year-old autistic girl whose parents claim was sexually assaulted by a teacher's aide with Texas City's Heights Elementary.
TJ Aulds, Texas City Sun
A former employee of a residential treatment program in Santa Barbara was in custody Tuesday on suspicion of raping and impregnating a woman suffering from severe autism... Devereux is a private institution that provides services to disabled individuals and their families.
Lompoc (CA) Record
Recommends inclusion of disability status in Child Abuse Registry of all states, and in all national incidence studies of child abuse and neglect; support services for families; needs identification; professional collaboration; prevention and treatment.
American Psychological Association
The APA recommends support services for families aimed at addressing anger, stress and depression, especially for those families with children at particularly high risk.
American Psychological Association
NTs are much like any other social animal, really. Think of wolves... the alpha male rules the pack, and the other males maintain a pecking order under the alpha.
Frank Klein
I live in Chenango County NY with my better half Dee, and my sister Scarlett who we have been raising for the past 5 years. Scarlett has Autism, which is developmental disorder.
Sean Kelly
People who are unable to communicate are obviously at increased risk of abuse. The reporting of abuse through facilitated communication has already allowed many people with communication impairment to challenge their exploitation.
Stephen Drake
William Blake, Lord Byron, Hemingway, Faulkner-- names to reckon with. And madmen, one and all, as defined by the world in which they lived.
Speak Up is about ending the silences that prevent people who use alternative ways to communicate from protecting themselves from sexual abuse. It is about giving people with complex communication needs the information, education and means to communicate about healthy sexuality and sexual abuse.
We believe that all publicly-funded special education programs, placements and services should be required to be effective and efficient and humane. We know that many, at this time, are 'none of the above.'
Dee Alpert,
The entire purpose of this site is to provide an outlet for exposing personally unjust experiences with other websites or groups, to do with autistic spectrum conditions.
The case arose Sept. 26 after the autistic student, a senior, came home from school with a crudely inked Confederate flag on his arm. The senior's father, who asked not to be identified, said his son told him only that it was drawn by "some boy."
Seattle Post Intelligencer
Patty's record has a multitude of examples describing how she was restrained, "tied to the bench." Several entries even depict how another child injured Patty while she was in mechanical restraints.
Lyle S. Cope, Kathy Markovich, John T. Phillips, Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare
A Wake County teacher was arrested Thursday on a misdemeanor child abuse charge that stemmed from an incident in her special education classroom at Wakefield Elementary School.
Oren Dorell, News Observer
...Hu admitted that she strapped a 12-year-old autistic student into a wheelchair and then locked him in a bathroom last week after the boy was disruptive during a morning class. Hu moved a desk in front of the door and sat on it to keep the student from coming out, investigators said. Hu told investigators she "knew it was wrong, but didn't know what else to do" when the boy "required too much attention" during the March 3 class..
Orlando Sentinel
Clarks Summit teacher Susan Wzorek subjected children to a pattern of abuse that began with small physical punishments, like stepping on their toes, and escalated to dragging students by the hair, bloodying their noses, and lashing them to chairs with duct tape, prosecutors said.
David B. Caruso, Associated Press
The charges relate to two students: a 9-year-old boy and a 12-year-old boy, who were students of Yasui-Der. The assaults, according to the warrants, consisted of allegedly bending a student's finger back and slapping a student around the head... the teacher allegedly twisted a student's arm.
Susan Broili, The Herald-Sun
A teachers aide was accused Thursday of slapping a 9-year-old autistic boy in the face and on the back of his head. Rye Brook police said Linda S. Pendergrass also picked up a stick while striking the child with her hand at Southern Westchester BOCES.
Journal News
A graphic comparison of eugenics propaganda from the 1920's and the publicity of groups purporting to fight autism.
A behavioral therapist was arrested on Thursday and charged with physically and sexually assaulting a 4-year-old autistic boy in his home in Long Hill, N.J. A hidden camera installed on Wednesday by the boy's parents showed Christine Mischenko, 23, punching, grabbing and kicking the boy during a therapy session,
John Holl, New York Times
Discusses abusive treatment and some of its results.
Amanda Baggs
t is estimated that approximately 67 percent of perpetrators who abused individuals with severe cognitive disabilities accessed them through their work in disability services.
Victim's Rights: America's Values
analyzes how violence against people with disabilities is defined, the kinds of violence to which people with disabilities are subject, the contributing factors/causes of violence, the incidence of violence, issues relating to disclosure, and responses.
Miriam Ticoll, Family Violence Prevention Division, Health Canada
Designed for law enforcement, victim advocates and disability services. Six video clips in the training programs were edited and included on this page. Click the following links to watch the clips.
Ever want to clear out a room full of autistics? Start discussing restraints. The apparent rate of PTSD approaches 100% among autistics.
Laura Tisoncik
Authorities are investigating and no charges have been filed in the alleged attack last month at Mifflin High School. Four boys suspected of involvement were sent home and have not returned to class.
Associated Press
Annie Mennicucci was desperate to find help for her 8-year-old autistic son, and in October she thought she found it in Nancie Fisher, a Manahawkin woman who advertised expertise in the disorder. "She said she'd have my son talking in two weeks," said Mennicucci, a Beachwood resident who paid Fisher $1,500 to serve as an "advocate" during special-education meetings with Toms River Regional School District officials. Leanne Laboy, a mother in Barnegat, paid Fisher $125 an hour to work as an advocate for her two children who have Asperger syndrome, a form of autism. But according to authorities, Laboy and Mennicucci were deceived by Fisher, who stands accused of using fake credentials to win the mothers' trust.
John Vandiver, Asbury Park Press
It takes Adult Protective Services to get beyond the denial and uncover the truth. And they are dealing with all kinds of crazy denial. It has to be crazy because no one in their right mind could bring themselves to be abusive in the ways that APS finds people being abusive -- hitting helpless people, humiliating people who have cognitive disabilities.
Judy Karasik
Contains information on an employment discrimination lawsuit filed by an adult with Asperger Syndrome against the community college that dismissed her.
Lana Kapchinsky

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This page was last updated on 16 March 2006, 9:34 am
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