Emergency information for disabled victims is first, since they are in the most immediate danger. Unfortunately, many disabled victims of violence are at the mercy of their would-be-killers. Emergency information for people who are concerned that they might murder or otherwise injure a disabled person follows. Some links are en español.
If you are an Autistic or disabled person and are in danger from someone, including family, here are some links and phone numbers. If you are on a computer, your correspondence can be tracked, so if you are in a bad situation and can use the phone, it can make a difference.
National Domestic Violence Hotline
National Child Abuse Hotline
Local Child Protective Services (CPS) links:
Local CPS Hotline Reporting Numbers
There are also local hotlines for each state. If you do not have time to use a hotline and can try to escape physically, do so.
If you are in a abusive or potentially abusive situation and are concerned that someone will say that you are "wandering" or "running away," try to alert friends and professionals that you are being restricted from leaving an abusive situation.
While not a "support group" in the sense of counseling, the Autistic community's vigil site is one place that Autistics and supportive non-disabled people can communicate, receive updates, blog entries, and other information. Posting rules MUST be observed:
Autistic Community Vigil in Memory of Alex Spourdalakis, Murder Attempt on Issy Stapleton, and All Those Murdered Because They Are Disabled
For Autistic women and girls, the Autism Women's Network (AWN) has forums for information and support.
There are also online groups and listservs where Autistic people can talk about issues that concern us. Remember, if you are in immediate danger, call or contact one of the hotlines or the police rather than talking online.
Guidelines for responding to suspected abuse, developed by the Disability & Abuse Project. These guidelines can be used by disabled people and others:
A Guide on Responding to Suspected Abuse of People with Developmental Disabilities
GUÍA PARA RESPONDER L SOSPECHAR ABUSO DE PERSONAS CON DES CAPACIDADES DE DESARROLO
For parents, guardians, and other people who think they might commit violence or murder:
If you are concerned that you might injure or kill a disabled (or other) person, or yourself, here are some links. Remember, violence and murder are NEVER right or permissible.
Remember, you will go to jail if you commit a crime. Your life will NOT get easier. If you are about to kill someone or yourself, GET HELP.
(NOTE: The disabled parent community has historically had a not-so-good experience with Child Protective Services, given that CPS often does not understand the capabilities and care that disabled parents DO give. NO ONE should have their children removed simply because they are disabled. Being disabled does not automatically mean that a parent can not care for a child. In my case, I have passed classes that go toward being a foster parent, just for reference that in fact we can be MORE capable than some parents.) If you think you are about to harm your child, call CPS, or the police, on yourself. It is better than murder and prison time. You may get access to services and have your (living) child returned, or have options for placement if you cannot safely take care of your child.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Access to resources:
SAMHSA's phone line:
Link to MANY MENTAL HEALTH and crisis hotlines:
Próximo esta una lista de líneas de ayuda nacionales que ofrecen información confidencial y anónima a los que llaman. Ellos podrán contestar preguntas y ayudarle en tiempo de necesidad. http://www.womenshealth.gov/espanol/salud-mental/lineas-ayuda/index.html
INFORMATION FOR YOU FROM THE AUTISTIC COMMUNITY REGARDING AGGRESSIVE OR VIOLENT BEHAVIOR ON THE PART OF AUTISTICS. Note that MANY, if not MOST, murders of Autistics, are NOT because of aggression or violence. Daniel Corby was FOUR YEARS OLD. George Hodgins was not said to have been violent. Rylan Rochster was SIX MONTHS OLD. REMEMBER THAT MURDER IS FAR MORE AGGRESSIVE, PERMANENT, AND REPREHENSIBLE THAN ANY AGGRESSIVE ACT THAT IS A MANIFESTATION OF SOMEONE'S DISABILITY:
Examine the situation the person is in when they become aggressive or violent. If it is because of sensory over or under-stuimulation try to change the environment or leave and go to another place.
Examine skills being taught- are they respectful of the Autistic person's preferences, interests, need to be themselves and not "normalized?" Added stressors such as too strict or lengthy periods of time for "behavioral programs" may exacerbate stress and the Autistic person may respond by being aggressive.
Examine the person's communication system. No, being able to make speech sounds is NOT a communication system. A communication system is the entire communication environment including all people involved (at least two communicators, one of which is the disabled person), technology available, time for processing auditory or written/visual information. Some aggressive behaviors are the result of not having an adequate communication system. Be willing to try alternative communication methods for people with limited language use.
Your goal as a parent, educator, or caregiver is NOT to make the person "seem normal," your goal is to help them learn to be the best Autistic person they can be. Efforts on your part at all types of stress reduction will help reduce aggressiveness. It is OK to help a person learn to manage stress but not by forcing it on them when they are not ready.
Some reasons that are not obvious, that may contribute to aggression, are: all kinds of lighting. Anything flashing, including natural phenomenon like tree branches. Noises in rooms. Puberty. Worry. Not being able to communicate wants and needs even in people who can talk or type. Is the person getting their point across, really? (Whether in words or in other behaviors that can be interpreted by those around the person.)
AVOID USING RESTRAINTS; VIOLENT BEHAVIOR MAY ESCALATE WHEN THE PERSON TRIES TO PROTECT THEMSELVES. The exception is if you or the person is in IMMINENT DANGER. Throwing things, making verbal threats (with no weapon at hand), are unpleasant and aggressive but not life threatening. I have listened to "professionals" joke about two adults "taking down" a kid who threw a chair. Adults have tackled and restrained children who were merely trying to move from one place to another (without permission). If you think your child (or you know, if you are the one administering restraint) is being restrained multiple times, you might want to consider the alternatives. Restraint is aggressive behavior on the part of the person administering it. It is never warranted when the recipient is not being violent, and often can be replaced with other alternatives. USE WITH EXTREME CAUTION. Also be aware of the effects on Autistic bystanders, children or adults who witness others being restrained or physically, mentally, or emotionally caused stress.
What can you do instead of restraining? If the person is hitting something or hitting themselves, let them do that a few times to de-escalate. Restraining them at this point only serves to stop attempts at self-de-escalation. Introduce a pillow or something soft between the person's head or the wall or whatever they are hitting. Remember, restraints are often used as punishment. This use is NEVER condoned. In emergency situations only, some judicious use of restraint might be required, to prevent serious injury or death.
Read this blog post from an Autistic person who has been violent and has written about it:
On violence, and gerrymandering, and murder.
Overall, if you or your family member is in a crisis situation,
Use the services that are available. Use some of the services listed above. If you have any suspicion that you might be able to carry out a murder, make a plan and inform a number of people that you are feeling this way, and let them know what you would like to have done if you exhibit warning signs (which might be different for each person) so that your "safety team" of friends can help you de-excalate your feelings that you might kill someone or yourself. If you have no one, call a hotline. Actually DO use these resources. If you feel like you are at your wits' end, call someone, or text or email or IM someone. Yes, your child might be taken from you. The child might also be returned after a short period of time. Foster care workers can step in. Social services can help, at times. It's not great, and it is admitting that you are overwhelmed, but it's better than the child's life being stolen from them. Autism does not "steal" children. Murder definitely does.
In addition to the practical advice above, efforts to urge full prosection are being made by Autistic and Disabled Advocacy groups, to try to stem the tide of murder and aggression toward our people. Some initiatives are below:
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network's ASAN Statement on the Attempted Murder of Issy Stapleton, urges "Every time our society treats violence against disabled people by family members and caregivers as different from other forms of violence, the stage is set for the next incident." The Autism Women's Network has also called for vigorous prosecution: AWN Calls for Zealous Prosecution in the Attempted Murder of Issy Stapleton
This next section will be links to articles and blog posts written in the wake of the copycat murder/suicide attempt on Issy Stapleton, who will probably be brain-damaged for life as a result.
I am calling this a copycat attempt because Kelli Stapleton tried to take her daughter's life within a week of CBS promoting a "documentary" about the murder of Alex Spourdalakis, also 14 years old. The media and "parents" have sidelined the humanity of the victims and a hue-and-cry has been raised to have compassion on the murderer. Furthermore, some of these "supporters" have called for less than full justice.
More links will be posted later today and this week (I have a work deadline and need to come back to this later). Please feel free to add your link to the comments section. NO links supporting murder or violence against disabled or Autistic people will be accepted.
My original blog post on this topic is copied below and can also be accessed here: Walk In Their Shoes: Attempted Murder of Autistics: Issy Stapleton
I won't walk in your shoes.