Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Samantha Crane's interesting take on elopement.

Severely autistic children often run away from home for reasons that are not necessarily apparent.  There have been instances when these children have drowned or been hit by cars and killed.  Parents of these kids often have to put locks on doors to prevent them from endangering themselves.  These behaviors are often referred to as "elopement".  

For this reason, the government and other individuals have advocated using tracking devices on these children.  Legislation, called Avonte's law (named after a child with autism who drowned) to get these tracking devices to the public have been proposed in congress.

Ari Ne'eman and other members of the neurodiversity movement have fought these tooth and nail, claiming that this is a violation of autistic individual's  civil rights.

In one article Ari Ne'eman even stated one reason that children elope may be due to physical and sexual abuse from their parents and service providers.

Samantha Crane, a neurodiversity activist and one of the autistic public members of the Interagency Autism, Coordinating Committee, has recently weighed in on this matter on twitter with the following words of wisdom about elopement:

To date, several ND autistics have been appointed to the IACC and zero pro-cure autistics, even though two were nominated and turned down.  Some may not agree with me, but I think I'm being charitable to Samantha in stating that comments such as these from an official of the U.S. government whose policy recommendations are financed with taxpayer money are somewhat insensitive in light of the fact many severely autistic children have died because of this problem.   

At a recent IACC meeting, Ms. Crane played a rather crafty game of bait and switch when Jill Escher, the mother of two severely autistic children, wrote to the IACC complaining that the autism diagnosis was too broad and trivialized the very profound problems of her children.  Ms. Crane's response was "how do you know I don't have seizures, GI problems, or these other problems like Escher's children, but I'm not going to talk about my life." 

This is a woman who has graduated from Harvard law school, never needed a diagnosis until she was in her early 20s (I guess she's now about 35) in order to obtain accommodations to enable her to attend law school.  Why she did not need these as an undergraduate at Swarthmore college and why she did not need a diagnosis in the 1990s in order to obtain services under the IDEA when she was a child will remain a mystery.  This is because when I asked Samantha if she had a legitimate diagnosis and if she could provide documentation either to me or the government she stated she was professionally diagnosed, but I was crossing boundaries by asking these questions.  I complained about her behavior to the president, my senators and congressperson, the secretary of health and human services and Joshua Gordon, director of the NIMH who runs the IACC.  My concerns so far remain unanswered.

Neurodiversity often bullies and harasses people and makes outrageous statements, but very few people want to get involved and complain about them to the government and private sector organizations such as autism speaks.  Many parents are too busy fighting for services for their children or going through the day-to-day hassle that rearing an autistic child entails to put up a fight.

However, considering all of the children who have been killed by elopement, I hope that some parents of severe autistic children will take some sort of action against people such as Ne'eman and Crane. Just think about it.  Their children's lives could be at stake.    


Autism Investigated said...

What a lunatic.

Anonymous said...

"In one article Ari Ne'eman even stated one reason that children elope may be due to physical and sexual abuse from their parents and service providers."

This is *one* reason why *some* children run away from their parents and service providers, autism or no autism.

Those other cases, where autistic children run into the street or pool when their parents and service providers aren't abusive, they're something else.

Why do we call any of this "elopement" when they're kids not running off to get married?

Anonymous said...

This is maybe a little bit off-topic, but I would like to know your opinion about Tony Attwood, "the world's leading expert on high-functioning autism/Asperger's syndrome". He seems to be quite a bigwig on the neurodiversity ideology too. As far as I can remember, you have never written anything about him. Below are some of his most famous "inspirational" quotes about neurodiversity:

"From my clinical experience I consider that children and adults with Asperger’s Syndrome have a different, not defective, way of thinking."

"Asperger's syndrome has probably been an important and valuable characteristic of our species throughout evolution."

"Universities are renowned for their tolerance of unusual characters, especially if they show originality and dedication to their research. I have often made the comment that not only are universities a 'cathedral' for worship of knowledge, they are also 'sheltered workshops' for the socially challenged (=aspies)."

"Perhaps Asperger’s syndrome is the next stage of human evolution."

" "Out of the box" thought processes of people on the autism spectrum will solve the world's big problems."

"You don't suffer from Asperger's, you suffer from other people."

"Having Asperger's is like being left-handed in a right-handed world."

"Autism is a gift, not something to be 'fixed'".

"The advantages of a diagnosis can be a sense of identification with a valued ‘culture’." (culture = autism as identity?)

Funny how all that wishy-washy feel-good fridge magnet life philosophy couldn't help his own aspie son (now 35) who has been addicted to drugs since the age of 15 and has been many times in and out of prison due to that.

Cheryl Felak said...

Regarding 'elopement" - for people with dementia and/or Alzheimer's this is also an issue but it is generally referred to as "wandering". It has been said that the wandering is not "running away' from something but someone actually trying to get to, or locate something or just getting lost because they got turned around and are unable to find their way back. It may be that they are confused and want to go home but may be at home - they then leave looking for their home.

I know in the case of my son who has a type of Niemann Pick Disease with dementia, his "elopement" comes when he is trying to get to something or he thinks someone he knows and wants to see is outside and he tried to go to them.

Why is this running by people with autism seen as "running away" and not running to or towards something they want?

We did have a program in our county for awhile "Project Lifesaver" which was a real blessing. Our won wore an ankle bracelet which, if he did wander, he could be located by the King County Sheriff. Unfortunately, this program is no longer funded and it is not available. Our son actually loved it when the sheriff came to change the battery on his tracker.

We never had to use the tracker but it did give us some sense of security. For instance, one time he had a substitute school bus driver and for some reason the driver just stopped and let our son out without me coming out of the house to get him. The bus had arrived at our house about 15 minutes early and I was recovering from surgery and sleeping with my alarm to go off for the normal time my son would be betting home. I heard my son screaming outside and I woke up. I ran to the door and my son was there but the bus was no where in sight. The school district got an immediate call and complaint but it could have been extremely bad if I had not been home yet to hear his scream. No telling what he would have done. We live on a busy intersection, he has no traffic safety skills and often decides that he is going to go to the library or elsewhere and tries to get out of the house on his own. He does not respond to verbal calls for his name and if he is intent on getting to something or someone, he is determined and cannot be deterred without physical contact.

I am just writing to give another opinion regarding the use of these tracking devices. They can be lifesavers and it is inhumane to restrict somethings that could be lifesaving for some people.