Asperger’s Syndrome is often misdiagnosed in childhood as ADHD, both conditions affect social interaction and communication skills and increase vulnerability. Asperger’s is also frequently diagnosed as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other mental disorders. A person with Asperger’s Syndrome or ADHD often has a hidden disability, managing well in certain areas whilst having unexpected gaps in ability in other areas. This can manifest in unpredictable ways so that behavior can be misinterpreted as being deliberately rude, anti-social, or lacking empathy. People with developmental disorders are 7 times more likely to come in contact with law enforcement officers.
A recent study by the CDC revealed that 1 in about 150 children are autistic. What is interesting about this study is that was conducted with 8 year old children exclusively.
New studies as of April, 2012 show that 1 in 54 boys scale on the Autism Spectrum.
For adults, we still have no official prevalence rates.
Excerpt from the Epilogue issued by the Autism Society of America, updated version prepared in May 2007:
Considering that most of these adult individuals are living in their family homes and assuming that approximately three-to –four family members are significantly affected (including, for example, not being able to work-or-missing because of caretaking responsibilities) by their relatives autism, we are speaking of a large number of citizens.
The only current official figures on population of people with autism are for children.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC MMWR February 9, 2007) reported the “…approximate average of one child in every 150 is the prevalence among children (emphasis added) aged 8 with a diagnosis of Autism spectrum Disorder (ASD). “ This ASD prevalence data provides the most complete information on the prevalence of ASD in the United States to date.
These children will be 22 year-old adults in 2014 and 2016. Based on Census Bureau population predictions, there will be (assuming the 1:150 prevalence rate does not go up or down) approximately 1,495,264 adults with autism in the United States alone.
Since there is no such current prevalence study for adults with autism, for them we are left to extrapolate.
However, we have only to add the 8 year-olds in the 2007 study to the many uncounted thousands who are now adults. The figure-and cost to society- is staggering.
In numerous studies comparing levels of stress in families caring for individuals with a variety of developmental disabilities, autism invariably ranks highest as a stressor. Many families and caretakers are often at a breaking point. They are typically faced with round-the –clock, 24/7, eyes-on, lifetime vigilance for most adults with autism.
Because most (three out of four) individuals with Asperger’s disorder are male, they are often quite strong, as well as aggressive, especially if there is no ongoing appropriate behavioral training and support. This is not to underestimate the strength and aggression of adult females when they are anxious and/or out of control.
Once these caretakers can no longer function, then what? Reverse the years-long hard-won deinstitutionalization trend which began in the early 1980s? Build new and larger institutions?
What David Braddock (1999) wrote remains true today:
It is an unfortunate reality that many families’ caretakers must die before the disabled relative for whom they are caring can receive service from publicly financed institutions. (p60) Our nation has done well and can be proud of what we have accomplished in the field of education for disabled children under school age (22). There are still many problems to be addressed, but it basically is a good system. (End of Excerpt)
Based on information we found on numerous websites and published materials, today’s young adults with any such disorders are completely overlooked, and there is no help available in terms of therapy. So let’s take a look at the individuals who have entered the criminal justice system. We can either continue to simply lock them up in facilities that a foster a “the fittest survive” attitude encouraging the inmates to detach from their emotions and proceed in producing an entire generation of sociopaths who will continue to return into the system OR…
Let’s take this awesome opportunity and provide these kids, who “fell the cracks” with constructive therapy and rehabilitation.
Many of the assumptions of the criminal process focus on “normal” behavior. This generally is not a problem but there are times when police and court efficiency conflicts with the reality of the normal behavior of autistics.
It is therefore possible that someone on “The Spectrum “will have a run-in with criminal justice system.
The spectrum generally means the autism spectrum, including Asperger’s syndrome. HFA, PDD and kanner’s autism. Many of us are comfortable with generic reference of “autistic”.