Autism & JJS

James Hannah


Juvenile Justice System and Autism

James Hannah

Salt Lake Community College

and learned some interesting things about the disease has I did research. Dr. I wanted to see what the Juvenile Justice System is doing when they come into contact with Autism/Aspergers. Leo Kanner first wrote about Autism in an article “Autistic Disturbance of Affective Contact” in the journal „Nervous Child‟ in 1943. Leo Kanner was the chairman in the newly formed Department of Child Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. I even went to the Utah Autism and Asperger Syndrome Conference and learned a lot. Autism has been around well before then. Jed Baker also spoke at this conference and he did a lot on helping people with Autism function in school and once they are old enough to work and such if they can. but it was Dr. He did a study on 11 children. 8 boys and 3 girls. . Dr. Met Temple Grandin who I talk about and she is one amazing person and a very good advocate for persons with Autism/ Asperger‟s. Kanner with this article that brought autism to the general public.Autism & JJS James Hannah Abstract 2 What is Autism Spectrum Disorder? I was wondering the same thing. Dr.

Autism appears to have its roots in very early brain development. What is Asperger Syndrome/HFA? The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). ASD can be associated with intellectual disability. part of the National Institute of Health (NIH). verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. as early intervention with proven behavioral therapies can improve outcomes. They include autistic disorder. music. defines Asperger Syndrome as: A developmental disorder that is characterized by: • Repetitive routines or rituals. These disorders are characterized. pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDDNOS) and Asperger syndrome. • Peculiarities in speech and language. by difficulties in social interaction. difficulties in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. However. the most obvious signs of autism and symptoms of autism tend to emerge between 2 and 3 years of age. or taking figures of speech literally. Rett syndrome. Autism Speaks continues to fund research on effective methods for earlier diagnosis. math and art. Some persons with ASD excel in visual skills. childhood disintegrative disorder. . • Socially and Emotionally inappropriate behavior and the inability to interact successfully with peers. such as speaking in an overly formal manner or in a monotone.Autism & JJS James Hannah What is Autism/ASD? 3 Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. in varying degrees.

the children lacked nonverbal communication skills.Autism & JJS James Hannah 4 • Problems with non-verbal communication. published in German. . when it was included in the tenth published edition of the World Health Organization‟s diagnostic manual. • Clumsiness and uncoordinated motor movements. the American Psychiatric Association‟s diagnostic reference book. Individuals who are diagnosed with autism or autism spectrum disorder who have normal cognitive abilities. She was born in Boston. and their interest in a single topic dominated their conversations. I had the opportunity to meet a person with HFA and her name is Temple Grandin. was observing four children in his practice who had difficulty integrating socially. They spoke in ways that were either disjointed or overly formal. failed to demonstrate empathy with their peers. which she called “Asperger” syndrome. when an English doctor named Lorna Wing published a series of case studies of children showing similar symptoms. Wing‟s writings were widely published and popularized. was not widely known until 1981. It was 1944. AS became a distinct condition and diagnosis in 1992. and in 1994. it was added to the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). International Classification of Diseases (ICD10). limited or inappropriate facial expressions or a peculiar. Asperger‟s observations. and experienced no significant delay in acquiring language skills. are very similar to individuals with Asperger Syndrome. Although their intelligence appeared normal. stiff gaze. an Austrian pediatrician named Hans Asperger. and were physically clumsy. including the restricted use of gestures. High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder (HFA) and Asperger Syndrome share similar symptoms and are helped by similar treatment approaches.

and making physical outbursts at school. accomplice crime with false friends. a master's degree in animal science from Arizona State University in 1975. Problems with sensory overload. are the very kinds of things that make more appropriate responses to society very difficult for someone with ASD. and a doctoral degree in animal science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 2012) ASD/Law Enforcement Youth with ASD often get in to trouble without even realizing they have committed an offense. would certainly strike most of society as offenses which demanding some sort of punishment. Offenses such as making threatening statements. After graduating from Hampshire Country School. to Richard Grandin and Eustacia Cutler. and little to no understanding of non-verbal communications. Because approximately 80 . She talked about how her mother never gave up on her taught her manners and loved her as she was. may not take into accounts the particular issues that challenge the ASD individual. or Internet stalking. though valid at face value. She was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2 in 1949. personal. While the individual with ASD might have committed the offense. inappropriate sexual advances. poor social awareness. but also having art and music classes that she is now upset to see many schools are taking away. New Hampshire in 1966. in 1989. 2001).Autism & JJS James Hannah 5 Massachusetts. telephone. the intent might well have been anything other than to do harm (Debbaudt & Rothman. a boarding school for gifted children in Rindge. Grandin went on to earn her bachelor's degree in psychology from Franklin Pierce College in 1970. This assumption. (Grandin. inability to deal with changes in routine or structure. She also says that teachers helped her. semantic misunderstandings.

By understanding the nature of autism. Because autistic persons may be hypersensitive to stimuli. Autistic persons have not developed the social awareness usually expected by others in the community. . Officers can use the acronym AUTISM to help them remember the methodology they should use when dealing with individuals with autism. contact with individuals with autism may occur anywhere in the community. as threatening. Therefore. the officers may receive information or otherwise determine that the subject is affected with autism and has reacted inappropriately to some event. Because autism affects each individual differently. the initial call for assistance to law enforcement may first appear as a domestic disturbance. many people with autism often function well in society--they may have regular employment in a supervised or unsupervised workplace. Other calls may involve complaints of strange behavior. even remotely. and may live in traditional or assisted living homes. non-threatening manner. officers should attempt to avoid quick motions and gestures that an autistic person may perceive. Law enforcement officers are trained to handle unexpected situations they may encounter on routine calls. The initial contact may be predicated by a request for medical assistance. They should-Approach the person in a quiet. such as being in an unfamiliar place or just wandering around or doing unusual things.Autism & JJS James Hannah 6 percent of patrol responses do not involve criminal activity. Reports estimate that as many as 25 percent of individuals with autism will have seizures by the age of 21. however. upon arrival. responding officers can manage calls involving individuals with this condition more effectively.

"Do you think that's cool?" or "Up against the wall!" probably will cause confusion and result in an inappropriate or unexpected response. "stand up" or "go to the car. Speaking loudly will not help and may even be viewed as threatening. 2001). Officers should use specific commands. Talk to the person in a moderate and calm voice.Autism & JJS James Hannah 7 Understand that touching the autistic person may cause a protective "fight or flight" reaction. Officers should never touch an autistic person on the shoulders or near the face. they should be patient and wait for answers. Seek all indicators to evaluate the situation as it unfolds. Conclusion Looking at Autism and Juvenile Justice System we need to remember that we are dealing with one children and two that not all children can be normal to what we might thing is normal. such as. Autistic hypersensitivity includes being touched and even extends to invasions of their personal space. There needs to be more training and studies done to find out if we are doing things right when it comes to children with any type of metal or developmental disorder. Instructions should be simple and direct with no use of slang. An autistic person will take an officer's statements literally. now" to reduce the chance of confusion. Although officers may have to repeat their directions or questions several times. Maintain a safe distance until any inappropriate behaviors lessen. When I worked in a treatment center for troubled teens and young adults I learned really . I look at it what is normal to us might be abnormal to a child with Autism. but remain alert to the possibility of outbursts or impulsive acts (Debbaudt & Rothman.

How you handled melt downs etc. I was fired for that reason because it went against what they wanted to do with them. . I always thought to myself if I was in their shoes how would I want to be treated and a lot of it was they needed someone that would listen. I was very upset to see that we are to control them and if we can‟t teach them how to manipulate the system to get what they want and to me that is not helping them grow and be able to live and do things on their own. And what I saw was not how some of them should have been treated. but also hold them accountable for their actions and help them through the tough times.Autism & JJS James Hannah 8 quickly that each one is different in how you have to approach things with them.

Westport : Greenwood Press. (2012). Grandin. No More Meltdowns. 118). Benaron. Contact with Individuals With Autism: Effective Resolutions. L. 1-5. What is Autism. T. & Rothman. (2001. Baker. pp. Inc. Retrieved 11 26. Utah Autism & Aspergers Conference (pp. Salt Lake City: Future Horizons. The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin . J. Salt Lake City: Future Horizons. 2012. 1-18). (2009). D. April 1).autismspeaks. (2012. Biographies of Disease: Autism. Inc. (2012). D.. Debbaudt.Autism & JJS James Hannah 9 Bibliography Autism Speaks. . Utah Autism & Aspergers Conference (pp. 12 01). The Way I See It. from Autsim Speaks: www.

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