There is a Special Place in Hell

Four employees of a Long Island group home have been fired and charged with endangerment for pitting two disabled individuals against each other, according to Newsday and News 12 Long Island.

Cellphone video of the fight shows the four workers laughing.

I think there is a special place in hell for those who are cruel to the helpless — to children, or animals, or, in this case, the developmentally disabled. No doubt that is where these “aides” are headed. They won’t get any sympathy from me.

For Luckie: A Special Dog for our Special Needs

I must admit, I didn’t much like dogs. I was raised to be afraid of them, and I brought that fear into my adulthood.

But 13 years ago, I had bigger issues. My wonderful, fun, beautiful, brilliant daughter was enmeshed in the throes of OCD—obsessive compulsive disorder. Fifth grade is a very difficult year socially for anyone, and she was being tortured by the need to turn on and off light switches 26 times, to pack and unpack her backpack the same number of times, rendering her incapable of leaving her classroom, and unable to cross a line—impossible in a tiled school hallway. So, fifth grade is a minefield for anyone, and she was primed for failure.

She needed a friend. And so I, who had sworn that we would never get a dog, got Luckie. For my daughter’s 12th birthday, we wrapped a number of gifts. First, she opened a placemat with little colorful paws on it. “Okay, I guess” she said, “Thank you.” Next, she opened a package containing a bowl, with colorful dog bones. She looked more confused. We encouraged her to open the next gift. Inside was a leash. She looked at me, she looked at her father. She had the most wonderful expression on her face. Confused and hopeful all at the same time. She stammered, “but, you said, I could never have a dog.” I told her we had changed our minds. I will never, ever forget that moment of pure joy.

My daughter had a friend, and called Luckie her sister. I will never know who was luckier, Luckie for having my daughter, or my daughter for having Luckie. Or me, who was lucky for having them both.

A year or two later, my daughter was off at sleepaway camp, and her father and I decided to divorce. As so many of you know, special needs children bring added stress. I found out I had a benign brain tumor. Reports from camp were not good. And I was angry. Angry at the entire world. It would have been easy to stay in bed and hide. But I couldn’t. I had to walk Luckie. So, Luckie and I walked. And walked and walked and walked. We walked until I finally opened my eyes and saw the sun shining, and that I was breathing and grateful that I was able to walk and breathe and hope.

So, thank you, Luckie, for everything you did for us, and for the joy you brought us.

Refrigerator Mothers or Aging Fathers?

 

Back in the 1950′s, scientists were certain that autism and schizophrenia were caused by mothers who were emotionally frigid.  Scientists coined the phrase “refrigerator mothers” to describe how the lack of warmth  by mothers affected their children.  There were even movies made about this symptom:  a PBS Point of View, the trailer which is found above.

Scientist now accept that autism is the result of genetics.  A study released by Nature highlights the link between paternal age and autism.

As the New York Times reported in August, as men age, they are more likely to father a child who develops autism or schizophrenia.

The study finds support for the argument that the surging rates of autism are partly caused by the increased average age of fathers.  It has long been known that having a baby when a woman is older increases the rate at which a child is born with Downs’ Syndrome.  Surprisingly, no correlation  has been found between the age a woman gives birth and higher rates of autism and schizophrenia.

Clearly, more research is needed.

More Research Needed for Teen Autism Treatments

Most of the research in autism treatment and prevention is aimed at young children. Early intervention is best and most helpful, but as the autism population ages, so must treatment solutions be aimed at older children and young adults.

As the Huffington Post points out, a new government report confirms that there is little scientific evidence that any of the treatments or interventions used in older children or young adults have any efficacy.

The lead author found there was a “dramatic lack of evidence for any kind of interventions.”  In my reading, however, the study did not say the interventions did not work, only that there was no evidence.

More research needs to be done.  We need to know if the interventions currently being used to help young adults enter the work force are effective, and if not, how we can help those young adults become productive members of society.