Aspergers Child Abuse: Physical, Emotional, and Sexual

Aspergers Child Physical Abuse—

The statistics on physical child abuse are alarming. It is estimated hundreds of thousands of kids are physically abused each year by a parent or close relative. Thousands actually die as a result of the abuse. For those who survive, the emotional trauma remains long after the external bruises have healed. Communities and the courts recognize that these emotional “hidden bruises” can be treated. Early recognition and treatment is important to minimize the long term effect of physical abuse. Whenever a youngster says he or she has been abused, it must be taken seriously and immediately evaluated.

Aspergers kids who have been abused may display:

• a poor self image
• aggressive, disruptive, and sometimes illegal behavior
• anger and rage
• anxiety and fears
• drug and alcohol abuse
• fear of entering into new relationships or activities
• feelings of sadness or other symptoms of depression
• flashbacks, nightmares
• inability to trust or love others
• passive, withdrawn or clingy behavior
• school problems or failure
• self destructive or self abusive behavior, suicidal thoughts
• sexual acting out
• sleep problems

Often the severe emotional damage to abused kids does not surface until adolescence or even later, when many abused kids become abusing moms and dads. An adult who was abused as a youngster often has trouble establishing lasting and stable personal relationships. These men and women may have trouble with physical closeness, touching, intimacy, and trust as adults. They are also at higher risk for anxiety, depression, substance abuse, medical illness, and problems at school or work.

Early identification and treatment is important to minimize the long-term consequences of abuse. Qualified mental health professionals should conduct a comprehensive evaluation and provide treatment for kids who have been abused. Through treatment, the abused youngster begins to regain a sense of self-confidence and trust. The family can also be helped to learn new ways of support and communicating with one another. Moms and dads may also benefit from support, parent training and anger management.

Physical abuse is not the only kind of child abuse. Many kids are also victims of neglect, or sexual abuse, or emotional abuse. In all kinds of child abuse, the youngster and the family can benefit from evaluation and treatment from a qualified mental health professional.

In the view of some experts, Aspergers child abuse in this country has reached almost epidemic proportions. According to a recent report, more than two million kids are subjected to neglect and physical, emotional, or sexual abuse every year.

There is no standard definition of what constitutes child abuse, but each state has statutes that describe the forms of child abuse. Regardless of distinctions in legalistic terminology, however, experts agree that the abuse cases reported represent a small percentage of the actual number of kids who are victims of sever abuse.

Causes and Consequences:

Most moms and dads prefer to think of chronic child abuse as something that happens to other people’s kids. While it is evident that certain kinds of stress make abuse statistically more likely – poverty, job loss, marital problems, extremely young and poorly educated mothers – abuse also occurs across all economic lines and in seemingly good homes. Many people blame the prevalence of violence on TV and in the movies, and while that theory has not as yet been fully substantiated, media violence may contribute to our acceptance of physical aggression toward kids. It is worth noting that cultures in which corporal punishment is not sanctioned have much lower rates of child abuse.

Aspergers Child Sexual Abuse—

Child sexual abuse has been reported up to 80,000 times a year, but the number of unreported instances is far greater, because the kids are afraid to tell anyone what has happened, and the legal procedure for validating an episode is difficult. The problem should be identified, the abuse stopped, and the youngster should receive professional help. The long-term emotional and psychological damage of sexual abuse can be devastating to the youngster.

Child sexual abuse can take place within the family, by a parent, step-parent, sibling or other relative; or outside the home, for example, by a friend, neighbor, child care person, teacher, or stranger. When sexual abuse has occurred, a youngster can develop a variety of distressing feelings, thoughts and behaviors.

No youngster is psychologically prepared to cope with repeated sexual stimulation. Even a two or three year old, who cannot know the sexual activity is wrong, will develop problems resulting from the inability to cope with the overstimulation.

The youngster of five or older who knows and cares for the abuser becomes trapped between affection and loyalty for the person, and the sense that the sexual activities are terribly wrong. If the youngster tries to break away from the sexual relationship, the abuser may threaten the youngster with violence or loss of love. When sexual abuse occurs within the family, the youngster may fear the anger, jealousy or shame of other family members, or be afraid the family will break up if the secret is told.

A youngster who is the victim of prolonged sexual abuse usually develops low self-esteem, a feeling of worthlessness and an abnormal or distorted view of sex. The youngster may become withdrawn and mistrustful of adults, and can become suicidal.

Some kids who have been sexually abused have difficulty relating to others except on sexual terms. Some sexually abused kids become child abusers or prostitutes, or have other serious problems when they reach adulthood.

Often there are no obvious external signs of child sexual abuse. Some signs can only be detected on physical exam by a physician.

Sexually abused Aspergers kids may also develop the following:

• aspects of sexual molestation in drawings, games, fantasies
• delinquency/conduct problems
• depression or withdrawal from friends or family
• refusal to go to school
• secretiveness
• seductiveness
• sleep problems or nightmares
• statements that their bodies are dirty or damaged, or fear that there is something wrong with them in the genital area
• suicidal behavior
• unusual aggressiveness, or
• unusual interest in or avoidance of all things of a sexual nature

Child sexual abusers can make the youngster extremely fearful of telling, and only when a special effort has helped the youngster to feel safe, can the youngster talk freely. If a youngster says that he or she has been molested, moms and dads should try to remain calm and reassure the youngster that what happened was not their fault. Moms and dads should seek a medical examination and psychiatric consultation.

Moms and dads can prevent or lessen the chance of sexual abuse by:

• Encouraging professional prevention programs in the local school system
• Teaching kids that respect does not mean blind obedience to adults and to authority, for example, don't tell kids to, Always do everything the teacher or baby-sitter tells you to do
• Telling kids that if someone tries to touch your body and do things that make you feel funny, say NO to that person and tell me right away

Sexually abused kids and their families need immediate professional evaluation and treatment. Child and adolescent psychiatrists can help abused kids regain a sense of self-esteem, cope with feelings of guilt about the abuse, and begin the process of overcoming the trauma. Such treatment can help reduce the risk that the youngster will develop serious problems as an adult.

Many moms and dads are unsure or squeamish about bringing up sexual matters, especially with their kids. Yet, there are ways of laying the groundwork so that you can talk to your youngster without scaring her. Establish an open dialogue about sexual issues early on. If you introduce the subject of sex in a discussion of abuse, there is the danger that the idea of sex may become automatically linked in your youngster’s mind with danger and anxiety.

If you have fostered in your youngster a sense of ownership regarding her body, she will likely have an instinct about what is okay for her body and what is not. You build on her natural sense of ownerships of her body by letting her pick out her own clothes or wash herself in her own way. Also, avoid pushing her to kiss or hug other adults when she clearly does not want to.

Finally, when moms and dads treat their kid’s bodies with respect, kids tent to demand that others treat their bodies in a similar manner. Kids who are consistently hit, grabbed, or physically punished at home may feel that adults are entitled to misuse their bodies simply because they are bigger.

Responding To Aspergers Child Sexual Abuse—

When a youngster tells an adult that he or she has been sexually abused, the adult may feel uncomfortable and may not know what to say or do. The following guidelines should be used when responding to kids who say they have been sexually abused:

What to Say—If a youngster even hints in a vague way that sexual abuse has occurred, encourage him or her to talk freely. Don't make judgmental comments.

• Assure the youngster that they did the right thing in telling. A youngster who is close to the abuser may feel guilty about revealing the secret. The youngster may feel frightened if the abuser has threatened to harm the youngster or other family members as punishment for telling the secret.

• Show that you understand and take seriously what the youngster is saying. Child and adolescent psychiatrists have found that kids who are listened to and understood do much better than those who are not. The response to the disclosure of sexual abuse is critical to the youngster's ability to resolve and heal the trauma of sexual abuse.

• Tell the youngster that he or she is not to blame for the sexual abuse. Most kids in attempting to make sense out of the abuse will believe that somehow they caused it or may even view it as a form of punishment for imagined or real wrongdoings.

• Finally, offer the youngster protection, and promise that you will promptly take steps to see that the abuse stops.

What to Do—Report any suspicion of child abuse. If the abuse is within the family, report it to the local Child Protection Agency. If the abuse is outside of the family, report it to the police or district attorney's office. Individuals reporting in good faith are immune from prosecution. The agency receiving the report will conduct an evaluation and will take action to protect the youngster.

Moms and dads should consult with their pediatrician or family physician, who may refer them to a physician who specializes in evaluating and treating sexual abuse. The examining doctor will evaluate the youngster's condition and treat any physical problem related to the abuse, gather evidence to help protect the youngster, and reassure the youngster that he or she is all right.

Kids who have been sexually abused should have an evaluation by a child and adolescent psychiatrist or other qualified mental health professional to find out how the sexual abuse has affected them, and to determine whether ongoing professional help is necessary for the youngster to deal with the trauma of the abuse. The child and adolescent psychiatrist can also provide support to other family members who may be upset by the abuse.

While most allegations of sexual abuse made by kids are true, some false accusations may arise in custody disputes and in other situations. Occasionally, the court will ask a child and adolescent psychiatrist to help determine whether the youngster is telling the truth, or whether it will hurt the youngster to speak in court about the abuse.

When a youngster is asked as to testify, special considerations--such as videotaping, frequent breaks, exclusion of spectators, and the option not to look at the accused--make the experience much less stressful.

Adults, because of their maturity and knowledge, are always the ones to blame when they abuse kids. The abused kids should never be blamed.

When a youngster tells someone about sexual abuse, a supportive, caring response is the first step in getting help for the youngster and reestablishing their trust in adults.

Best Comment:

My problem is this....I don't have my son (9 years old)living with me at this time so I can't try the different ways of working with him. I am also facing charges of child abuse at this time and it's scary because I didn't do this and my son self-injured himself and told his father I did it. My son is not with me because he was placed with his father by CPS.
In April, my son was diagnosed as having Aspergers after initally being diagnosed as ADHD/OCD and bipolar tendancies. His father (my ex-husband), also has Aspergers (undiagnosed) and my son is like him in EVERY way. I have seen the destruction that this condition has done to his father, who is now engaged to his 6th wife (I was #4). I have been alone in trying to get my son to work through his problems, and to teach him to treat others with respect. He hates my husband, and doesn't treat anyone at my home nicely, especially me. Now because his father "understands" him, he allows my son's behavior, never correcting it because he doesn't know the difference. His father treats everyone poorly so he doesn't see that my son's problems with school and me are a problem, and thinks I am over exagerating our son's bad behaviour even though his teacher and counselor are on my side.

In May my son was kicked out of school after screaming for an hour in the principal's office because he didn't want to do his math test. His father's new fiance took him for the day because I had just had back surgery and was out of time at work to be able to stay home with him (I had him Monday-Friday). When he came home that night, he was adament that I let him live with his father. When I talked to his father, he said my son just wanted to do fun things with me on the weekend so I could still keep him during the week and if we had something fun coming up on the weekend, I could have him then too. Two weeks later, my son tried again to get kicked out of school (since it worked so well the first time) however the principal and vice principal were not at the school that day, just his counselor. His counselor told him she knew what he was up to, and that no matter how long he screamed, he would not be sent home. She explained to him that he could finish his work that he was refusing to do, and return back to class to try and work on having a good day. When faced with the fact that he wasn't going home, he stopped screaming, did his work, and had a good day. She described their relationship after this as "strained" now.

Again, my son insisted he wanted to go and live with his father, and stay with me on the weekend. He again told that this would not happen.

Without getting into the legalities here, I need some help badly. He has now told everyone that I beat him on a daily basis, sometimes 2 or 3 times a day. I can count 2 times that he had been spanked in a 2 year period by me. Also during this process, in March he reported to his future step-mother that my husband was giving him daily spankings and she in reported us to CPS. When I received the call (2 days after being released from the hospital for my 3rd back surgery) I asked him what this was about, and he said it was about the nightly game that my husband played with him and my 12 year old son. This consisted of them both giving my husband a hug every night before bed. When my husband would release his hug, the boys would take off running, trying to get away before my husband could swat their butts. It was a game that he enjoyed, where he would usually circle back around and punch my husband in the leg, and run off again before he could get the playful swat on his butt. Well, one night he was not on his game and ended up getting tagged. He was pissed, to say the least, for losing that night and went to bed very angry. He stayed up all night obsessing over it, and I suspect went to his father's that morning before school and told his future stepmother that he was spanked the night before.

My oldest son (now 13) is extremely upset with him for lying about this and having CPS investigate it (it was closed out as unsustained). He's also not happy that his brother is telling lies about my "daily beatings". I should also note that my 9 year old was the only child placed by CPS, as my 13 yr old, and my husband's 9 yr old and 6 yr old were deemed to be "safe" (none of them have any problems with me....in fact they all told CPS that my son is not very nice, but I'm very loving).

Both his father and I are police officers. I was forced to retire in October because of my back problems after 21 years. This only compounds things because his father has "pushed" this case through the sheriff's department and now up the chain of command at the D.A.'s office.

I am at a loss as to prove how I did not do these things to my son, and was wondering if you have any ideas that could help me get someone that can help me in court. I have a CPS hearing coming up on December 16th, along with a hearing on December 19th as my ex filed for full custody. 


Ettina said...

To the commenter whose Asperger kid accused her of abuse:

The behavior you're describing is not typical Asperger Syndrome behavior. Most Asperger Syndrome kids are basically nice kids at heart, but their social obliviousness and their meltdowns (typically due to sensory overload and/or resistance to change) can make them seem mean at times.

Lying and manipulation are not typical Asperger Syndrome behavior - in fact AS kids are less likely than most kids to behave that way because of their poor social skills and literal-mindedness. (Many don't even have the ability to lie until they're 8-13 years old, due to delays in theory of mind.) Not to say that AS kids never lie or manipulate others, but when this kind of behavior is severe, it indicates another problem besides Asperger Syndrome.

This behavior could be caused by abuse and/or attachment issues, psychopathic tendencies, mood disorders such as bipolar disorder, or some other comorbid condition. You say your son was originally diagnosed with ADHD/OCD and bipolar tendencies - it may be that he does in fact have bipolar tendencies in addition to Asperger Syndrome. Or it could be that that was a misdiagnosis but was picking up on behavior issues that are best explained by some other condition.

Incidentally, although psychologists talk about a 'lack of empathy' in AS, this is somewhat misleading. See, there are two parts to empathy - the ability to figure out what another person is thinking or feeling (cognitive empathy), and the emotional reaction to another person's feelings (affective empathy). Asperger Syndrome causes significant difficulties with cognitive empathy, but it has no effect on affective empathy.

If your son has trouble with affective empathy, that indicates some kind of comorbid condition. In particular, poor affective empathy is a hallmark of psychopathy - which can be identified in children, and child psychopaths respond better to treatment than adult psychopaths do, which means early intervention is crucial.

Arthur said...

I have aspergers and I am abused physically and verbally but there are no physical marks as the abuse is mostly verbal and even tye physucal abuse leaves no marks but it is painful. I'm abused by some even though I am 25 years old and I am or if I curse out or criticize my abusers.

Anon said...

I have to disagree with you and remind you that children with Aspergers are as different as everyone else. Most children with Aspergers do not lie and manipulate but others do. Often this is because they have experienced an abusive situation where this is a behaviour they have copied and are mimicking. For a child who needs a black and white world having a care giver who constantly lies and shifts the goal posts is even more confusing than for other people and produce a range of symptoms and problems, one of which is lying.

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