These were sobering pieces about a young adult male named Simon Greenspan who has autism and who caused problems for the neighbors because of his emotional outbursts.
“Simon Greenspan would wake up his neighbors with screams and moans, often following a loss by the Cleveland Indians or another sports team.
“His outdoor rants, sometimes in the middle of the night, could last from 10 minutes to more than an hour.
“The sporadic outbursts, occasionally directed at his neighbors, went on for the better part of six years. During that time, Shaker Heights police responded between 50 and 100 times to the two-story house on Shelburne Road, usually after a neighbor had called to complain.”
Although it was about one individual, the implications are huge. I’m sure tens of thousands of parents could read these stories with the nagging thought in the back of their minds, “Will this happen to my child?” What’s so maddening to me is the fact that there’s this chronic acceptance of autism. The Plain Dealer told us, “And this won’t be the last such case.
“The population of people affected by autism is growing, and although the affliction manifests itself differently in different people, vocal or even violent outbursts are not uncommon.
“The experience of the Simon family and their neighbors is a cautionary tale for every neighborhood and every community to ponder."
So there will be more adults like this coming along? Simon Greenspan’s behavior resulted in dozens of police visits, $6,500 in fines for the parents, and their son being shipped off to a group home Utah. So where will we put all the upcoming adults like Simon?
“Today, Simon Greenspan lives in Ogden, Utah, in an apartment with 12 other adults with disabilities, and is being treated at a therapy center there. His parents' feelings are hurt, their family is divided and they question how their son's medical condition can fairly be classified as a criminal nuisance.”
Autism is the problem creeping up on everyone. We’ll have to live with it and pay for it. Maybe then we’ll start to ask why is happening. I am very scared about a world where an epidemic gets a shrug of the shoulder and the victims become victims themselves.
I posted this comment:
Simon Greenspan is the future. Autism is now an epidemic affecting one percent of children, including almost two percent of boys. That rate comes from studies of eight year olds. No one has ever shown us a comparable rate among adults, especially adults with classic autism whose symptoms are undeniable. Dr. Thomas Insel, head of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) created by Congress to deal with autism, has said that 80 percent of Americans with autism are under the age of 18 and he warned that we need “to prepare for a million people who may be in need of significant services.” Nothing is being done to handle the approaching tsunami of dependent adults that will descend on social services in the coming years. The IACC now calls autism “a national health emergency.”
As a teacher, whenever I see an autistic child have a meltdown in school where it takes two or more adults to control the situation, I cringe at the thought of what will happen when he/she is 18 and 20 and doing the same thing.
When are we going to ask what’s happening to our children? How long will we accept that autism is a mysterious disorder with no known cause? We’re now on our second generation of the autism epidemic. The first wave is aging into adulthood. Estimates for lifetime care are at a minimum, $3.2 million per child. (Other estimates are $5 to $10 million/individual.)
When that happens disturbing the peace will be the least of our problems. How will we deal with this tsunami of autistic adults? How many people will want a group home in their neighborhood? How willing will taxpayers be to support this disabled generation?
I really like what an autism dad I know wants to put on a bumper sticker….
“I pay a fortune for my child with autism. You will pay a fortune when he is an adult. Still think autism is someone else’s problem?”
Anne Dachel, Media editor: Age of Autism
Update: On Aug 21, 2011, this story, Not In My Back Yard -Group homes still facing opposition despite efforts, appeared in the Decatur AL Daily News,
“The state licenses group homes in three categories — intellectual disabilities, mental illness and substance abuse. The home in Hartselle would be for those with disabilities, not individuals with psychiatric- or substance abuse-related problems.
“In fact, Lawrence, Limestone and Morgan counties only have intellectual disabilities homes. Morgan leads the way with 50 homes, including 43 in Decatur. There are seven in Limestone and four in Lawrence County.
“Specific numbers were not available by county, but the waiting list statewide to get into a group home contains 2,700 families, Alabama Department of Mental Health spokesman John Ziegler said.
“‘There’s definitely a need for more group homes,’ he said.
“Municipal governments can’t ban the homes from single-family neighborhoods, but group homes almost always draw opposition from neighbors, who claim they lower surrounding property values and increase crime.”
Will the autism generation, ignored as children, be unwanted as adults?
Anne Dachel is Media Editor of Age of Autism. Subscribe to her newletter at www.annedachel.com.