Tag Archives: crime

Why Autistic People are more likely to be bullied …

 

Anyone can become a victim of bullying, but it does seem that a disproportionate number of autistic people experience bullying at some point in their life.  There are a number of reasons for this, and most of them are to do with the psychology of the person doing the bullying.  There is something about autistic people that makes them appear to be `good victims` in the eyes of a potential bully.  Probably the simplest way to illustrate this point is to list a few of the key issues below so that you can get some idea of what I am talking about.

  • Autistic people tend to stand out from the crowd – one of the fundamental principles of autism is that if you have it you are not like everybody else around you.  This doesn’t have to be a bad thing, and you don’t even have to be completely different from everybody, but the fact is most bullies will pick on somebody who is even slightly different.  This could be somebody who is fatter or thinner, or taller or shorter than average.  If somebody has autism they might communicate differently from those around them, or behave differently.  It might be something as simple as dressing in a particular way, for example, somebody I knew would wear a suit every day.  Or it might be talking in a formal manner in informal situations.  The fact that somebody is looking for a victim means that even the slightest difference will make a person with autism eligible for bullying.
  • Autistic people may not have as big a circle of friends to stand up for them as other people do – what I feel I have to make clear with this point is that I am not talking about everybody here – I am just using what I have been told by a lot of autistic people who have been bullied to make these points – it won’t be true for everybody.  But what some autistic people report is that as they struggle to make friends in school or the workplace, they are singled out within days of arriving somewhere as being that one person who hasn’t made friends yet; therefore if the bully is looking for a victim they won’t be looking for a group, but a mere individual.  This is the beginning of a vicious cycle.  Because they couldn’t make friends quickly enough they became known as that friendless person who gets bullied – and who wants to be friends with that person? Apparently no one, meaning that they are even more likely to experience further bullying.  Of course people should be able to go in to a certain situation and make friend s in their own time and their own way, but unfortunately it seems that a lot of schools and workplaces have social structures almost like prisons; if you are in a group you are much more likely to have people watching out for you, whereas if you are on your own you are much more likely to fall victim to bullying.  It should also be pointed out that people who do have good friends can also be bullied, but the majority of bullies will look for the easiest possible target.
  • A lot of people with autism are not able to read body language or other social cues, so it can be hard for them to read other people`s intentions – this obviously makes them much more vulnerable if somebody is planning to do something to them – perhaps luring them away to somewhere more secluded so they can be beaten up, or manipulating them in to doing something embarrassing, or illegal.  The person doing this might not even be that intelligent or good at disguising what their intentions are, and it may be evident to everybody else in the room – but if it goes completely over the person with autism`s head, then they instantly become a much more inviting target for anybody intending to bully.  People with autism may underestimate the severity of what another person is planning.  It is also possible that they may be manipulated in to thinking that the bully is their friend.  The cues that something is not right when they are being lured in to a certain situation: certain looks, laughs or remarks, may be completely missed.  This allows bullies to be able to manipulate autistic people in a way they couldn’t do with neuro-typical people.
  • Autistic people also tend to take things literally – this connects to the point above in that it makes them easier to manipulate – But what it also does is lend extra power to the words of the bullies – this comes in two ways: if somebody says `I`m going to kill you` most people assume it means they are going to get beaten up.  Now this isn’t pleasant in itself, but if the person with autism genuinely believe what people say to them, and they have to go in to school the next day thinking someone intends to kill them, then the toll that would take on somebody’s physical and mental health must be extreme.  To have the pressure of believing every single threat that is given by a group of bullies would put incredible stress on to an individual.  The person’s family, and their life may be threatened daily.  This might have the added complication of stopping the individual telling somebody about the bullying.  It would also make the experience even scarier for the autistic individual. The other way that taking things literally can make things more difficult is when it comes to on-line bullying; threats and verbal abuse are an unfortunately common part of people’s on-line experience.  But most people know that in reality the people at the other end of it do it for their own pleasure, and probably don’t feel one way or the other about the people they are sending these messages to; if the bully hadn’t come across that particular autistic individual then the messages would be sent to someone else.  I am not trying to say that this makes it easier for the victim, so imagine believing that every random insult thrown up by someone on-line was sent with genuine hate to you personally, then is it any wonder that some people begin to believe these insults and threats, and feel worthless or scared?
  • Sometimes, because autistic people struggle to understand how to fit in socially, they may do anything they feel is necessary to attempt to fit-in with their peers –Unfortunately this makes them incredibly vulnerable to those who simply want to tease them.  In their mind they might be part of a group and they are all having fun together, but in reality they are just the butt of the jokes.  This obviously isn’t the case in all friendships autistic people make, it is just something that can sometimes happen with a bully, or a group of bullies.  Because that desire to fit in can be so strong the autistic person may know that what they are being asked to do is wrong or embarrassing, but they may do it any way rather than go back to being ignored.  Now unfortunately this can happen with any type of social out-cast, whether they are autistic or not.  It is also possible that the autistic person may not know that they are doing something wrong or illegal, and also that they are not trying to fit-in because they want to make friends, but trying to fit-in just to stop the bullying.
  • Autistic people often give a better, more rewarding, reaction when bullied – now bullies like to hurt and manipulate people – this isn’t to say that they will be bad people all their lives, but in that moment they are causing physical and psychological pain to another human being – some do this because they enjoy the power it gives them over someone else, but most do it to see what reaction they can get from another person.  Somebody who is autistic may obviously be provoked to the point of a meltdown –which is just about the biggest reaction a bully can get.  They may wind the person up in subtle ways that will lead to the autistic person having an outburst, and being perceived as the bad-guy themselves.  The reason a lot of bullies, or former bullies give as to why they hurt people to provoke a reaction is that they were bored.  This doesn’t have any weight to it though, as there is really no reason to be bored in today`s society – the internet and mobile phones give us everything we could ever want at our fingertips, and yet some people choose to use this to bully.  People who engage in provoking these kind of reactions do so for their own enjoyment, and unfortunately autistic people often provide the best reactions.
  • Autistic people can struggle to ask for help with a problem because of their communication skills – maybe they physically can’t ask or tell because of an inability to speak? Maybe they are too scared and anxious to make an attempt at telling a teacher, co-worker or parent about what has been going on for them?  Maybe they believe the threats of the bullies, and don’t speak-up for this reason?  Whatever the reason is, autistic people can find themselves suffering in silence at any stage of their life.  People say tell a teacher or a parent, as if that solves everything – that`s fine but if you don’t know how to tell somebody, if you don’t have the confidence to approach somebody, if the idea of going up to someone and starting a conversation like this is almost as scary as being bullied, then what are you to do?  I am not offering solutions here, but perhaps it is better if the parents and teachers try to notice the problem themselves, and look out for it?  It is really important that somebody else knows what is going on and supports the person who is being bullied.

The above are just a few points that occurred to me when I began to think about why autistic people are more likely to be the victims of bullies.  I suppose what I did was put myself in to the shoes of a bully, and ask myself if I wanted to hurt somebody and get away with it, what type of person would I target, and why?  There may be other reasons, and not everybody who is autistic will be a target for bullying during their life.  I hope that the points I made above make some kind of sense to you.  I am sure I didn’t cover them all, and if any others do occur to you please comment below, and let me know what they are.  I also don’t mean to suggest in this article that only autistic people will be bullied, as bullying is a problem that can affect anyone in society.

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Injustice – would the punishment fit the crime if the victim wasn’t autistic?

One thing that is known about people with autism is that unfortunately they tend to be the target of bullying at some point in their life.  This is brought on by a combination of being different and standing out from the crowd, as well as sometimes being more vulnerable, and more easily led by those around them.  It is unfortunate how many people will target the most vulnerable in society, be it somebody with autism, somebody with dementia in an elderly person`s home, or somebody in the middle of the street having an epileptic seizure.

 In the last few week’s people fitting all three of these descriptions have been robbed, beaten up, raped, humiliated, and in several cases filmed while the above acts were taking place.  Now that – in and of itself – is a shocking indictment on society, but saying that, is it even particularly shocking?  If you`ve been watching the news recently you know it probably isn’t.  These crimes are horrible to read about, but at least once you`ve finished reading about them you know that the people who`ve perpetrated them are going to be safely locked away in prison – except that`s the problem – you don`t.  There have been several cases recently where young people with autism have been beaten up severely, and I am not talking about being bullied in school, I mean prolonged and savage attacks by fully grown adult men.  The sentences given out to these men are either a couple of months, or nothing at all.  I personally am not a fan of prisons in the way they work now.  I believe that people should have a chance to reform and be rehabilitated, but there has to be a punishment.  Saying that you are going to give somebody community service for a prolonged and brutal physical, and sexual assault on an autistic young man, because they `look remorseful` – as a judge said recently – is simply twisted – where is the line drawn?  The victim of that attack has suffered what will probably be life-long psychological trauma, as well as devastating physical injuries, and yet the perpetrators `looked remorseful` so they escaped prison.  But what if their victim had died?  And that is not a particularly big stretch – punching somebody to the ground, and stamping on their head could easily lead to death.  So what if the victim had died, and his attackers had `looked remorseful` then?  Is this the message we are trying to get across, that unless somebody with autism actually dies you have free-reign to do whatever you feel like to them?  I am not a fan of the ridiculously long prison terms in places such as America, and I have always been opposed to the death penalty, but if someone deliberately sets out to hurt another person, and endanger their life, then regardless of the attacker’s age and circumstances, surely there should be some punishment?

There are other cases such as people who work in nursing homes, who assault and steal from elderly residents with dementia: punching them, kicking them, humiliating and degrading them in every way, and yet when the prison term comes back its three or four months.  The reality is that if you cheat on your benefit, or taxes you are liable to spend a lot more time in prison than if you beat-up one of the more vulnerable members of society.

 I am not saying that people should always be given twenty year sentences – of course you have to keep things in proportion – but assaulting the weak and vulnerable for your own entertainment is one of the most despicable things you can do.  If judges can`t hand out decent prison sentences for this, what is the point in having a prison system at all?  For me it is no different than all the celebrity paedophiles who have recently been exposed.  They got away with what they did for so many years because children in the U K were treated as second-class citizens.  They were able to do what they wanted to do with immunity for so long because they knew in reality that society – although it may have been shocked, and appalled if it had found out about the crimes – did not care enough to take any one child`s story seriously.  It may seem tenuous, but when you can read five different stories in two weeks of the most vulnerable people in society being assaulted physically, sexually and emotionally – in some cases being tortured – being humiliated and degraded, and being scarred sexually, emotionally and even physically for life, and the combined sentence for all of these offenders is under five years – and the vast majority of these will be released early – it is hard not to feel anger.

And then you go on to somewhere like twitter, and read about how people`s children have been failed by Assessment and Treatment Units, where they were supposed to be safe, but instead have been neglected and ending up dying under the supervision of the very people who were supposed to be helping them. These individuals are then failed once more by the authorities and courts, who refuse to take any kind of action against these units.   This simply reinforces the view that the vulnerable are being neglected.  People with autism are being taken away from their families to facilities hundreds of miles away which actually have no experience of autism.  Some are being sectioned, and are not allowed to see their families if they have any kind of meltdown.  The Government are also seizing every opportunity to take benefits, and support from disabled people in society – so I suppose that really clears up the first point; why is it so difficult to see people who commit crimes like this sentenced to a decent prison term?  The reason is that the Government, and the system as a whole, seem to have as much contempt and disregard for vulnerable, and disabled people as the individuals who are committing these crimes against them

Links to a couple of the stories mentioned in the blog. WARNING – they are very distressing.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2719825/Epileptic-woman-woke-severe-fit-strangers-laughing-filming-ordeal-mobile-phones-police-refuse-investigate.html#ixzz39poW8Mfk

http://www.autismdailynewscast.com/sadistic-thugs-who-tortured-autistic-boy-for-days-set-free-under-uk-government-initiative/14092/shanellis/

Links to some of the campaigns surrounding vulnerable people being neglected in Assessment and Treatment Units, and others being moved miles away from their families to completely unsuitable accommodation.

http://justicefornico.org/ #justicefornico

http://sarasiobhan.wordpress.com/about/ #justiceforLB

http://www.saveclairedyer.net/ #keepclaireinswansea

https://twitter.com/LSammas1995 #bringstephenhome

If you need any more help or advice about Asperger`s/Autism or simply want to talk about it check out our free help and advice service ASK-PERGERS? On Twitter https://twitter.com/ASKPERGERS Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ASKPERGERS?ref=hl

And have a look at our books (at the time published under pseudonyms, but we did write them trust us on that!)  http://www.jkp.com/catalogue/author/1762

 

 

 

 

Autism is not a crime.

It seems to have become the done thing to diagnose people with autism or Asperger’s, when there is absolutely no evidence for this.  When this is done in the case of historical figures such as Mozart, it is not harmful – stupid, but not harmful.  But when it is done in the cases of people such as Jeffrey Dahmer, or Harold Shipman it can be potentially dangerous.  It seems like nowadays, every time there is a mass shooting or a school massacre in America, the perpetrators are described as being `potentiallyautistic`.  Apparently, studies done recently show that up to 28 percent of serial killers are `believed` to be autistic, but what does that mean `believed to be?` Does that mean they think they are?  It obviously doesn’t mean they`ve been diagnosed, or they wouldn’t need to say `believed to be`  Also, the fact is this; serial killers are not a new phenomenon – men and women have been killing for fun, sexual pleasure, or just for the thrill of it right back to the beginning of recorded history.  The vast majority of convicted serial killers are from the United States, but they are only the convicted ones.  There are countries that claim never to have had a serial killer, but how do they know that if people have disappeared it is not the work of a serial killer?  The facts with serial killers are always going to be distorted.  Henry Lee Lucas claimed to be responsible for hundreds of murders after he was arrested, simply because he enjoyed the attention, whereas other people, such as Robert Black has only ever been convicted of four murders, although he is a suspect in dozens more.  The fact is, serial killers lie and try to manipulate the people around them, especially after they have been arrested, and therefore have lost the vast majority of the power that they held on the outside.  Another fact is this, let’s say that 28 percent of convicted killers do have autism (they don’t, but let’s just say that they do)  Well there are thousands of unexplained disappearances every year that could be the work of serial killers, and that would completely throw those statistics out of balance.  We also have to think that 28 percent of serial killers being autistic isn’t the real statistic we want to look at – the statistic we want to be concerned with is this; what percentage of people with autism have been convicted of murder?  I have no clue what this is because I can’t seem to find it anywhere on- line, but I doubt it is very high.

The other thing to think about is the fact that some of the most notorious killers of all time: Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Richard Ramirez, and John Wayne Gacey were charming, and they fitted in to the social scene around them perfectly; they had a brilliant understanding of people which is why they were able to manipulate them so easily, and they could completely adapt to any situation they were put in.  It wasn’t that they didn’t have a good understanding of their own emotions – they knew perfectly well what they wanted, and they went out and got it – the fact was, they simply didn’t care about other people.  This is a stereo-type about autistic people.  But men like that were obviously psychopaths; they cared about nobody but themselves (I am not saying that everybody who is a psychopath is going to turn out to be a killer) Being autistic doesn’t mean that you have any less concern about human life.  A lot of autistic people might not really be able to show this, but the idea of hurting or killing anybody else deliberately is absolutely abhorrent to them.  As for mass murderers, the only thing you can really conclude is that these people suffer from some kind of breakdown, but again, I don’t think somebody with autism would react in that way if they had a breakdown.  There are a lot of people with autism who are now grown-up who may have been humiliated, and rejected their whole lives, but have never even thought about killing somebody.  In fact, there is barely any evidence to suggest that any known serial killers, or mass murderers are autistic.  A lot of them are diagnosed with having something such as schizophrenia – but again, it is important not to stigmatise everybody who has schizophrenia as being dangerous.  A lot of serial killers were violently sexually abused as children, but not everybody who suffers that kind of abuse goes on to dish it out themselves.

 I think that people are fascinated by serial killers for the simple fact that people love a good monster story, and serial killers are the closet thing we have to living monsters.  They exist in every country; you could live and work with one for decades and have no clue.  We have absolutely no understanding of why they feel so compelled to do what they do.  Every time it seems as if somebody has solved this, a new killer appears who doesn’t fit any of the patterns.  So that is why the media chooses to focus on things such as autism; the fear of the unknown is the biggest fear there is.  The fact that we will probably never understand why some people choose to commit these kinds of acts is too much for some people to bear, and they try to pin it on something closer to home, and more understandable – it is the grown-up equivalent of hiding your head under the covers so the monsters can`t get to you.

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