Managing Editor's Note: As far as we've come with overall autism awareness, the reality for day to day living for our loved ones as they grow older is grim. Ben (in the story below) has Asperger's syndrome. My children have full autism. The diagnoses differ. On Thursday night I spoke to a group of parents and providers at a therapy center in my town. I stressed, as I always do when I speak, that the autism spectrum is not a hierarchy of "us" down at the bottom and "them" at the top with Asperger's. My friends whose sons have AS worry just as much as I do about what the future holds for their kids. Their troubles are more real world - often more dangerous - because their kids will live very much in the neurotypical world, whereas my own will be somewhat sheltered in the special needs system. I'm as sharp as a razor as I describe autism as a horizontal spectrum - not vertical. I've had it with the shiny, happy horseshit of acceptance and awareness - that's a no brainer and an excuse to raise money and do little else. We need paid training, media messages that teach the differences in our kids, support programs for employment and post-secondary schooling. If I see one more autistic kid solving number problems on TV or being the quirky genius I'll scream. Are some of our kids able to that? Sure. A handful. The reality of autism from lowest functioning to Asperger's is a hostile world that does not understand them, know how to work with them, or respect them in the least.
Nancy Speer says her 22-year-old son, Ben Warren, has gone without the mental health treatment he needs since being incarcerated. (HERE)
Just outside the Santa Barbara County Jail, where her son is being held, Nancy Speer issued a tearful plea to officials on Thursday to provide her son with the mental health treatment she says he’s been refused since being incarcerated a year ago.
Ben Warren, 22, of Santa Barbara was arrested last year on a charge of grand theft auto and has been serving a one-year jail sentence. He’s been kept in solitary confinement in a “safety cell” for most of that sentence, according to Speer.
Warren was diagnosed with psychosis and Asperger syndrome, a form of autism, as a child, and his family says he has refused medications since being in jail. Speer recalled visiting Warren last Saturday at the county’s Psychiatric Health Facility. She said he has refused food and water, and has lost about 80 pounds since being in jail.
He also had large cuts and scratches all over his body, which Speer said she was told by staff were self-inflicted.
“These physical wounds don’t even touch how far away he’s gone in his psychosis,” she told reporters.