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Environmental autism a U.S idea but U.K MNers agree in principle

(39 Posts)
YouWinOrYouDie Sun 25-Sep-11 22:35:15

Environmental Autism

MN social worker says "people think that neglect is way down the scale when compared to abuse, but nearly half of the children who i deal with on CP/CIN plans have been left disabled to some degree because of neglect"

"The symptoms display as autism, so until a 'syndrome' name is found it is the easiest way to explain it"

Is anyone else very uncomfortable with the fact that autism is being equated with abuse and neglect? Yes, disability can be caused by neglect but conditions like autism?

YouWinOrYouDie Sun 25-Sep-11 22:38:10

Sorry, only one UK MN SW. The divine Mrs De Vere didn't like the idea either smile

YouWinOrYouDie Sun 25-Sep-11 22:41:51

And Starlight made an excellent point about neglect by the authorities.

coff33pot Mon 26-Sep-11 01:25:10

Yes to be honest it is disturbing to even hint that autism can be due to neglect. But then that could be me being touchy due to the fact its always the parents that are deemed to have either not brought their child up properly or have some underlying issues at home that could be causing said child to have behaviour problems. I bet you could count on one hand the amount of mothers that escaped interogation and were told "this isnt your fault" straight from the starting point of assessment......

"Learning difficulties due to neglect" is a more acceptable term to use when you have retrieved a child from such a dire way of living, BUT only when founded and proved that is so rather than assumption.......

coff33pot Mon 26-Sep-11 01:25:31

And yes Stars point was excellent.

raffle Mon 26-Sep-11 01:38:02

Yep, that description harks back to the 60's when it was thought that Autism was caused by bad parenting, particularly by 'refrigeration mothers' . Nice one Daily Wail.

lisad123 Mon 26-Sep-11 08:18:41

Had a child I worked with from a very neglectful house and she presented as autistic. However, once she was removed from home, and placed in a loving home of foster carers, she clearly wasn't. She had a learning disability but no ASD.
I think alot of children in very neglectful home do present like they have autism BUT often make huge steps forward after a change in environment.
Don't let one mn worry you too much grin

cory Mon 26-Sep-11 08:27:39

I didn't take Bird's post in this way. What I took her to mean is "severely neglected children can present as autistic= in a way reminiscent of autism and as we do not have a name for this syndrome we are currently calling it behavioural autism". It is not the same as saying that genuine autism is caused by neglect.

SanctiMoanyArse Mon 26-Sep-11 08:29:01

I spend a lot of time with people with ASD: I have 2 / 3 and am studying for an MA in it.

There is not real siongle thing as autism- that's increasingly the beleif anyway. Autism is an awful lot of conditions and causes that share a core et of symptoms. Given that we know it can be triggered by many things such as brain damage, related to other disorders (eg Retts and Down Syndrome) as well as a result of encephalitis I don't understand why people don;t just get that but there you go.

I have worked in a field related to social services, a charity, and I absolutely disagree with that SW. Even if she ahd seen that correlation it wold only be in famillies accessing her services and even then she cannot ascribe causology- what she is terming neglect could be what it is assumed Bettelheim was seeing (he wasn't very well qualified to ascribe ause either)- exhausted aprents who have ceased to cope or aprents with the genetics themselves either undfiagnosed or hovering around the spectrum boudaries.

I can absolutely say that I have yet to see any proper research and I spend a LOT of time assessing research on ASD for uni; in my own family there is a clear history of ASD that goes back certainly to my Grandad. I have seen plenty research saying that if scanning children could be afforded as routine (high res MRI scans being needed) then it is expected that damage to a few areas of the brain could be picked up in many cases; corpus callosum was one (also implicated in ADHD), I can't find the other but I guess I could dig out the essay I did on this.

bochead Mon 26-Sep-11 08:33:09

Eeeer there's a clearly identified variety of attachment disorders that can at certain stages of development be confused for asd (a little like adhd can in under 5's). (Google romainian orphans and attachments disorders for loadsa info in an instant.) So a "syndrome" has been defined (rolls eyes).

So she's talking out of her a%&%se and frankly I'd expect a SW (so a CP expert) to recognise the difference, even if a layman can't. She just sounds incompetent to me.

Sadly it's been brought home to me this year just how very vulnerable our children are to abuse from professionals that if a NT child was subjected to - just wouldn't be tolerated. Likewise how many sen kids are totally failed by the system in terms of care/therapy/education/respite etc? To me that's a form of neglect.

keepingupwiththejoneses Mon 26-Sep-11 08:37:32

All I see by that is yet another reason for ss to say it is all our fault. It doesn't matter if it said less that 1% of case would be caused by this they would use it as a reason not to give support, they need very little excuse.

SanctiMoanyArse Mon 26-Sep-11 08:43:24

Exactly bochead.

MN should not be used as a forum for distributing crackpot poppsych theories.

Dawndonna Mon 26-Sep-11 09:42:24

I resent this sort of thing. I also resent people stating that my children have brain damage. They may have different neurological wiring, but they are neither damaged nor neglected.

YouWinOrYouDie Mon 26-Sep-11 10:14:43

Yes it's like Bettleheim, which was making me uncomfortable. Nice to see that theory is bang up to date there hmm

Also agree with Dawn, my DS experiences the world differently and is not damaged in any way.

Your input is also fascinating too Peachy.

Interesting discussion people, thank you.

StarlightMcKenzie Mon 26-Sep-11 10:37:05

Children with autism are at a higher risk of neglect and abuse. I am not as loving or attentive as I could be and I have relatively good support and resources.

Many Siblings of children with autism have to live with limited attention and displays of affection not to mention snappy cross parents and verbal and physical violence from their ASD sibling that a NT child would not be expected to live with.

The minimum standard for any child are low and getting lower, but for a family with a child with a disability there are second class expectations.

SanctiMoanyArse Mon 26-Sep-11 10:53:35

Starlight there is truth in that but that's not becuase of us, but a system that chose to downgrade us in favour of bankers and fancy lights under motorway bridges (blue ehre, cheers for that council).....

At our last Carer's Assessment he said 'do you struggle with houswork'
'Yes' said I, 'I..'

'oh don't worry about that I am sure youa re fine let's move on'

Now it's not ,my fault I struggle- I bought a board recently from a CM supplies shop to help me try and get a better routine- then threw it away becuase the chores that it said needed weekly must be done 2 - 3 times a day ehre to stand a chance of keeping up (I had assumed a CM board would equate to 4 kids, silly me); the boys trash their rooms daily, ds4's reaction when seeing a box of toys is to throw it about......

But if that is neglect it's us being neglected by a system that fails to help us rather than my neglect causing the boy's ASD.

Which is a joke anyway: ds3 is the most loving cuddly caring happy child ever- not what you'd expect from an abused child. ASD might be stereotypes as a certain thing but in relaity deviation from social norms in certain areas as per dsm criteria can be in either direction. I have one of each.

bochead Mon 26-Sep-11 11:02:19

However I will argue that as parents we have to work 5 times harder than the norm, often with fewer financial (work/careers cancelled or interupted) and social resources(friendships become harder to maintain, relationships breakdown etc). I know a couple of local Mums on the old anti- D's, not because of their kids specific issues but because of the struggles to obtain supposedely universal "rights" for their kids like an education from the "system".

It's infuriating that a "professional" from the very state system set up to support our children would spout such factually incorrect guff (again look up attachment disorders ffs!). Lack of support drives many sen parents to the edge and beyond of their very sanity. Not because they aren't loving parents but because on top of a lack of practical support they have to deal with attitudes like this.

Social workers of all people should be looking to HELP parents like us, not blame us. Then fewer parents would crack up and become unable to cope (has Riven been forgotten by that judgypants mob already?). I can forgive Joe Public for ignorance but child professionals should darn well know better.

Gawd can't someone put me in charge as a totalitarian ruler for a month or two so that social workers like that woman can be sent to a compulsory reeducation camp?

StarlightMcKenzie Mon 26-Sep-11 11:55:49

bochhead. There are times when I should be on ADs. I know when they are, and by refusing to go the GP to get them I am taking a huge risk.

But I also know what a huge risk it would be to my reputation and ability to fight for my child's educational rights if I DID go to the GP.

There should be no shame in asking for help. But help is rarely of the type that is required for the parents and family, it is more the type of help that is required to keep the family from disrupting current established practice or from asking for anything that requires funding.

SanctiMoanyArse Mon 26-Sep-11 12:25:50

Agree Star

In fact, following ds4's referral I have a fast approaching deadline with DH that if I am not back up by then I will see the GP; so far I have managed without ADs but for me the giving in would be worse than taking them. If that makes sense? I need to know I can do this myself.

But it's not that autism is caused by neglect more than neglect can be a result of autism. Mine aren't neglected; not with the two of us about. Am lucky to have DH.

StarlightMcKenzie Mon 26-Sep-11 12:44:51

Mine aren't neglected either, but on a sliding scale, they are 'more' neglected than they should be and than they would be if they were both NT.

Due to luck. I started with a higher baseline than many others do.

Their neglect might consist of having to live amongst excrement, but only for a day or so. It might mean having rice pudding for 2-3 meals in a row, but not for a year. It means being ignored when upset whilst I lock myself in my room for half an hour and hide under my duvet, - but I do come out.

I hate it that my kids have to put up with the above things. It doesn't help my ability to cope to have to live with the guilt of it either.

What would social services do though? They would come round and lecture me on the children having rice pudding, and send me on a healthy eating course run by the local children's centre, but expect me to arrange my own unavailable childcare. They would lecture me on the state of the bathroom and tell me that I have to make it a priority. They would tell my dh that he has to take even more days off of work from a job that he is already at risk of losing due to having had so much time off work, and they would insist that I removed the lock from my bedroom door. In short they would remove all my coping strategies that enable me to be an okay mother the rest of the time and pour even more guilt onto me.

They wouldn't give me what I needed, which was 1-2 hours a week of someone taking the children out so I could clean the bathroom, have a bath, start the dinner and do an internet shop in peace.

SanctiMoanyArse Mon 26-Sep-11 13:02:57

Nope they#re not interested are they?

You heard what happened wrt ds4? SLT diagnosed language delay (I disagree but that may be a future battle- not for now) so sent me on a course.
No course no therapy.

Course so basic that someone asked about visual timetables and was told that was way above scope of course; someone mentioned their ds would grab them and pull them rather than point or ask and was told it was insignificant and to put to back of mind (none of these kids dx'd with anything as yet). I tried to grab that mum afterewards, what with being a major red flag for ASD< but couldn't sad

Told us ds4 would be seen after Christmas.

Ended up having my first ever mini rant at a professional (usually too shy)- said that I am fdoing the MA, their former specialist head of dept was now my lecturer and I woudl approach har for some real advice as I know full well ds4 has asd and not a speech delay: in fact his speech is fine, should he wish to communicate with you.

Feel I may have been missing a trick all these years as his appt is next month blush

ouryve Mon 26-Sep-11 13:16:33

It's back to the whole "refrigerator mother" idea of laying the blame on the parents, isn't it? Yes, many children with abusive home lives are going to have developed behaviours which are antisocial, obsessive, etc, but autism is something that people are born with a pre-disposition to, so I doubt if I am alone at not welcoming any suggestion that my boys' condition might also be rooted in abuse or neglect.

I'm afraid the only blame I'm going to accept for my boys' autism is for passing on some rather kooky genes.

ArthurPewty Mon 26-Sep-11 13:25:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

YouWinOrYouDie Mon 26-Sep-11 14:27:41

I met a former colleague the other day and we were catching up. She was my LSA once. She asked after my DS and when I said that he had been dx with autism launched into this DM spiel about how (not MY son obviously hmm) it was all really to do with the parents and ADHD and labels and shock I was quite unprepared for it!

DS can be more confused and more frightened and more frustrated with the world but in some people's opinions it means, "uncontrollable" when in actuality we spend MORE time and effort than most anticipating problems and sometimes even creating them because we want our DC to experience the surprises which life throws up to the detriment of our calm and sanity. Because we are decent parents.

YouWinOrYouDie Mon 26-Sep-11 14:29:06

Great post Leonie btw. DS has actually been BF past 4 and still is when he can catch me but I wasn't going to admit that because that in itself is a red flag, sadly angry

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