No doubt some of you may find this to be a strange question, however, given the recent links that many within the media have made between young men with Asperger Syndrome and acts of mass violence over the last few years, I think it’s fast becoming a question that needs to be asked.
I know from personal experience that there have been two teenage boys, both diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, who were removed from my son’s specialized school, due to their constant acts of violence and aggression toward their class mates.
The behaviors of both of these boys were not characterised by random violent out bursts due to temper tantrums, but rather by cool, calculated acts of brutality designed to inflict as much harm as quickly as possible on those around them, without getting caught.
Neither of the boys concerned struck me as being Aspie-ish and apart from their lack of any outward show of emotion, (apart from anger at being caught out) they had very little in common with the rest of the children at my son’s school.
One boy in particular, caught my son’s bus and would often sit behind my son and sneakily whisper into his ear that he was going to bring his father’s gun to school and shoot him because the teacher ‘liked’ him more.
My son went through a stage of being too terrified to catch the school bus and as a consequence of this it took many weeks of counselling before the full story of what the other boy had been saying to him on the bus to come out.
Once the school became aware of it, the boy in question was banned from catching the school bus for two weeks.
The same boy was expelled less than a month later after attempting to bash a female teacher who had caught him trying to steal a knife from the school kitchen. Once constrained (by 3 staff members) he began to make a number of death threats against other staff and students at the school.
Given the way he’d already been threatening my son, I hate to ponder just what might have happened on the school bus that day, if he had not been stopped from stealing that knife from the kitchen.
At the time I thought that boys behaviour was bordering on sociopathic and could in no way relate it to my own son who is predominantly quiet and prone only to outburst of anger “in the heat of the moment”.
The idea of quietly plotting the death of his fellow class mates, stealing guns or knives, or wilfully torturing another student with either verbal or physical threats would not occur to my son.
Yet they occurred to the other boy who was supposed to have the same diagnosis as my son.
Now I realize that Autism is a spectrum and yada, yada, yada, but really…….?
And I know that doctors would be loath to label a teenager as a sociopath …..
And I also understand that parents would rather hear that their child has Asperger’s Syndrome rather than a severe mental illness…..
But in the name of common sense and decency, isn’t there a line somewhere that needs to be drawn between diagnosing a child displaying a lack of emotion and insular tendencies as having Asperger’s Syndrome as opposed to diagnosing a child who displays a willful desire to hurt, main or terrorize others as having Asperger’s?
So in the light of all the awful things that have occurred in the USA over the last few years I can’t help but wonder whether or not there are psychologists out there who have misdiagnosed cases of severe mental illness as Asperger’s in children and teenagers simply because they themselves don’t want to believe or accept that the propensity for some individuals to deliberately wish to harm others does indeed manifest itself in childhood in ways that go beyond just an outward lack of emotion and insular tendencies?
Is it just me or are there any other parents out there who are tired of seeing the most vulnerable of children being placed along side the most volatile of children all in the name of Autism?