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January 31, 2012

DSM-5 Autistic Spectrum Disorder Disaster

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Has the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Lost It’s Collective Mind? Have the “36,000 Physician Leaders in mental health” ignored history? After all, decades of autism research show self-injurious behavior is a hallmark trait of severe autism.

Hundreds of research studies have been published on autism and self-injurious behavior. Hundreds of papers are written about autistics who present with self-injurious behavior. Thousands of experts have discussed the challenges of self-injury among autistics. Yet, today, you see no mention of self-injurious behavior in DSM-5 autism diagnosis.

Yes, the modern mental health leaders of the APA would have us believe autism with self-injurious behaviors doesn’t exist.

I call into question the professional integrity of some involved in pushing the autism diagnosis of the DSM-5. Indeed, the revised autism diagnosis illuminates the work of scrambled, shuffled and compromised thinking—the work of individuals who know little, or don’t want to know much, about autism with self-injurious behavior, but would have us believe, they do. They don’t.

This over-intellectualized mess believed—by some— to be a diagnostic masterpiece in making, is insulting to severely-autistic community. I don’t know what the alleged professionals revising DSM drink when sitting around conference tables to discuss autism diagnosis, but someone should investigate. It’s not Kosher.

Furthermore, we must ask:

Why does APA include “flapping fingers” in Asperger’s Diagnosis, but omit “flapping fingers” from autism diagnosis?

Why does APA omit self-injurious behavior from Level One (most severe) category of autism spectrum disorder?

Why does APA create a new category called: “Non-suicidal self-injury,” which excludes persons with autism and self-injury?

Why does APA ignore clear, common traits and characteristics of low-functioning autism?

Studies show High-functioning autistics may struggle with self-injurious behaviors. So, are we to forget autistic people may have self-injurious behaviors? APA hopes we’ll forget and drift into Abstractland.  

Does APA forget some autistics have aggressive outbursts? Yes, they’re probably drinking around that darn table again.

Are we to forget that severe behaviors are, and have always been, a hallmark trait of severe or “classic” autism? No, we should never forget. Also remember: SIB is NOT a hallmark trait of high-functioning autism, but it CAN be an issue.

Is the APA scared of addressing autism and self-injurious behaviors due to challenges, costs and complexity of treating self-injurious behaviors among autistics? Yes. Yes. Yes. Research shows an embarrassing failure of treating self-injurious behaviors among autistics.

Why would APA try and shift severe autism with behavioral issues into an ‘intellectual disability’ category, especially when high-functioning autistics and highly-intelligent NON-autistics exhibit self-injury?

Hence, Self-injurious behavior disorder isn’t rooted in intellectual ability.

Are some professionals who work with autistic children terrified and contemptuous of severe behavioral issues? Yes. Do some professionals prefer, even demand and orchestrate, working with ONLY the highest functioning autistics with mild to no behaviors because it makes their job easier? Yes. Yes. Yes.

Are college students being taught to view autism from a false definition? Yes.

What’s happening to research on autism and self-injurious behavior? It’s disappearing. Autism research today focuses on high-functioning autism with few behavioral issues.

Has the autism diagnosis been romanticized by movies and news? Yes. Not one Hollywood Producer has shown the courage to tackle severe autism with severe behavioral issues.

Do some Directors of Autism Clinics lack skills to discern different levels of autism? Yes.

For instance, let’s take a look at one recent statement from a Kirsten Schaper.  Schaper is a speech-language pathologist and Director of a small Autism Clinic in Illinois:  We do have a lot of referrals for [autistic] kids for challenging behaviors, tantrums, head-banging, aggression, self-injury, but these are not characteristics of autism spectrum disorder," Schaper said.

Shape up Schaper, you don’t know what you’re talking about…

“Self-Injurious Behaviors in AUTISM have multiple topographies with different biochemical and social environment causes and effects. The most common topographies of these behaviors include, but are not limited to head-banging, head-hitting, face-punching/slapping, hand-biting and excessive self-rubbing and scratching…”  (Edelson, 1999;

Schaper’s ignorance of behaviors in autism is astonishing. Autism presenting with behaviors is out of Schaper’s league of expertise so she pretends behaviors don’t exist among autistics, and hopes, with revisions to diagnosis, these autistics will become someone else’s burden. 

Historical evidence of self-injurious behavior among autistics has been studied for years. We must never forget it, as these autistics need extensive support and tolerance, lest they be cast into abstract jargonland and forgotten. I would hope, given unique connections, the highest-functioning autistics, as well as persons with HF Asperger’s, would be advocates for severely-afflicted autistics who can’t advocate for themselves.

  1. Autism Research Review International, 2001, Vol. 15, No. 4, page 3. Controlling
    self-injurious and assaultive behavior in autism. Bernard Rimland, Ph.D.
  2. Fact sheet on self-injurious behavior and Autism .... Auditory integration training
    has also been shown to reduce sound sensitivity (Rimland & Edelson, 1994).
  3. Characterization and Treatment of Self-Injurious Behavior. ... Source:
    Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, v30 n5 p447-50 Oct 2000
  4. Risk factors for self-injurious behaviors among 222 young children with autistic
    disorders. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research , 47, 622-627.
  5. Some argue an autistic person who exhibits self-injury is intellectually disabled, yet we find High functioning autistics and people with Aspergers struggle with self-injurious behaviors.
  6. Jan 1, 2002 ... It also serves as an illustration of how aggression and self-injury can be ..... The
    changes in these behaviors in individuals with both Asperger's ...
      7. Asperger syndrome is often considered a high functioning form of autism. ... to
people;      odd or peculiar speech; Has behavior that may lead to self-harm
     8. Aspergers diagnosis in adults will come from symptoms such as violent
outbursts, hypersensitivity to sensory stimuli, rituals, self-injurious behavior, odd …
     9. Self-injurious behavior is one of the most devastating behaviors exhibited by
people with autism ..... Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 18, 99-117.
    10. injurious behaviors are one of the most concerning forms of lower-level repetitive stereotypic behaviors (RSB) (Bishop and Kleinke, 2007)

11. Allen Frances: “Severe, classic autism is clearly defined and absolutely unmistakable. But, at the milder end of its spectrum, autism has inherently fuzzy boundaries merging imperceptibly into many other childhood mental heath, behavioral, and learning problems and is also difficult to distinguish from the individual differences that are a normal and (even desirable) result of human variability”. Huffington Post
12. In most cases, though, severe autism is marked by a complete inability to
communicate or interact with other .... Journal of Autism and Developmental
Disorders.  Source: -

13. Autism Research Review International, 2001, Vol. 15, No. 4, page 3
Controlling self-injurious and assaultive behavior in autism
Written by Dr. Bernard Rimland, Ph.D.
Autism Research Institute
 "Nothing is more difficult for the parents of autistic children to tolerate than self-injurious and assaultive behavior (SIB/A). SIB/A behaviors are unpleasant to observe, to think about, or to discuss, but they do exist, and must be dealt with. Some autistic children hit their heads against walls or floors so hard that they have fractured their skulls, detached their retinas, or caused deafness. Others hit themselves with their fists or their knees so hard that they have broken noses, deformed ears, and even blinded themselves. Some children bite themselves and others, and hit other children and their parents with such violence they have broken bones."
WAKE UP APA...please, wake up. Researchers who devote their time and effort into studying autism and self-injurious behavior deserve some credit. You can't ignore their research.

While some people with autism are mildly affected, most people with the condition will require lifelong supervision and care and have significant language impairments. In the most severe cases, affected children exhibit repetitive, aggressive and self-injurious behavior. This behavior may persist over time and prove very difficult to change, posing a tremendous challenge to those who must live with, treat, teach and care for these individuals. Source:

Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders. .... Catherine E. Lord, Ph.D. ...... Problem
behaviors may include but are not restricted to self-injury, aggression, dis-

September 27, 2011 by autismsciencefoundation ... York Institute for Basic
Research); Dr. Catherine Lord (New York Institute for Brain Development); Dr.
David Mandell (University ... His primary focus is repetitive self-injurious behavior
(SIB). -

Autism Research Institute | Autism is Treatable ... Self-injurious behavior often
refers to any behavior that can cause tissue damage, such as bruises, redness, ... -

Behavior analytic research on dementia in older adults. .... treatment for the self-
injurious skin picking of a young man with Asperger syndrome.

January 27, 2012

Budget Cuts Put Persons with Severe Autism at Risk

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Prejudicial attitudes towards persons with special needs that exist today have foundations in historical influences. It's important to understand this history and what kind of people are behind it.

In Ancient Rome, entertainment at the Coliseum included throwing disabled children under horses.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, 'ships of fools'- containing mentally and physically-disabled children and adults— sailed from port to port, where people would gather and pay to laugh at them.
In Nazi Germany, films such as “Ich klage an”, painted disabled people as 'useless eaters', a burden on the state. Eliminating disabled persons became known as “T4”. Today, we call it “making painful cuts.”

For the record, did you know Winston Churchill was a supporter of the British Eugenics Society, as were Sidney and Beatrice Webb, founders of Labor Party, and many other influential “intellectuals” of the left and right? Other eugenics supporters included authors D.H. Lawrence, and the economist John Maynard Keynes. Given such pernicious attitudes, we can see why, back in early 1900’s, Queen Mary and King George V hid their epileptic son with mild autism (see the BBC drama, “The Lost Prince).

History also shows, under the UK Mental Deficiency Act of 1913, two of the Queen Mother's cousins were incarcerated.
Similar laws in America had led to President Kennedy's sister kept in an institution and having a frontal lobotomy.  

So now you’re thinking but we’ve come so far from these horrible times. Yes, we have. That’s why we can’t tolerate politicians using psychological manipulation to justify “eliminating” funds from programs that help severely-autistic children and adults. Making “painful cuts” to programs that help individuals and families living with autism is like pretending autism doesn’t exist.

Maybe that’s what some elitists want? After all, the world is, in their mind, their playground and they don't like to share. Furthermore, they feel they alone know what's best for mankind.

Do not be fooled by policy makers using psychological manipulation. Do not be fooled by politicians with superficial sympathy and excessive apology. These are ruthless, cunning people of power who conceal true intentions. Those who advocate targeting “painful cuts” to the most vulnerable of our society will lie, deny, rationalize, vilify, shame and divert, before every American, to make their “painful cuts.” Total con-artists.

It’s up to those who know better to stop every attempt at eliminating every cent from every program that helps the elderly, poor and disabled of our society. What politicians like Governor Jerry Brown don’t understand about parents of, let's say, autistic children and adults, is that we aren’t fooled by politicans like him. We've been through too much reality to believe the unrealities presented to us.

Let's take a painful look at Governor Jerry Brown. NOTICE AFTER he announces “painful cuts” to programs, he LATER announces, “At a time when children, the disabled and seniors face painful cuts to essential programs, the state of California cannot justify a massive expenditure of public dollars for the worst criminals.”

Notice how Brown shifts onto a new subject of 'criminals on death row',  as if expenditure on criminals is to blame for the pen in his hands making cuts to disabled programs.

The good news is that God is on the side of the most vulnerable in society. And He expects those, who by the grace of God, aren’t so vulnerable, to be their voices.

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice…” Proverbs 31-8-9

Kim Oakley