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Ulysses Stable

"I've terminated the life of my autistic child," Jose Stable, age 50, told police on the morning of November 22 outside Kelly Towers, the Bronx apartment building where Mr. Stable, a single parent, lived with his son Ulysses, age 12, who was later found lying in the bathtub of their 16th floor apartment, his throat slashed. Delete "autistic" to contrast the derangement of the alleged killer of his own child with the innocence of the victim. Re-insert "autistic" to learn that the child ate grass, weighed 280 pounds (a likely side effect of medication) and tried to touch neighbors in the elevator "in an agitated way, not a friendly way."

Mr. Stable has a record of ten arrests; those for which information was available did not involve his son. A number of autistic children have been killed by their parents in recent months: the social profiles of the alleged perpetrators vary but the media focus on the challenges of raising an autistic child is constant. Reporters interview parents, neighbors and professionals never autistic persons though some might surely offer valuable insight. Since Ulysses was labeled as "severely" autistic it might be argued that a "higher-functioning," "verbal" autistic person's viewpoint would be of limited value; indeed the popular misperception of autistic persons as socially withdrawn and incapable of empathy might seem to disqualify them altogether as useful sources. But lost amid all the clamor over 'causes and cures' is a growing body of evidence that this is all wrong; that the communication disorder in autism involves wiring misconnections between parts of the brain; the signs we read as aloofness and withdrawal are in fact practical responses to sensory dissonance. Which means that autistic kid in front of you understands, in ways of his/her own, exactly what's going down around them.

Kelly Towers stands in view of the Fordham University campus where I worked for four years prior to a move to our Lincoln Center campus. Two years ago the Curran Center put on a conference on the great Jesuit sociologist Joe Fitzpatrick; while speaking with folks in the neighborhood that might have remembered him for his work with the Latino community I found myself asking priests and others if they were encountering more autistic persons or hearing more about it. They were but seemed as puzzled as me as to what might be done locally to help. A Bronx parent/advocate's initiative led to on-campus informational sessions that sparked some student interest but the kids were oriented toward service in their hometowns just like us, with our 90 minute commute to Central Jersey.

Two years later I still don't know just what might be done though thanks to a plug from our friend and colleague Mark Naison, Curran Center's Oct. 27 conference on autism and advocacy drew a really strong Bronx contingent, which witnessed alongside others an autistic self-advocate's impassioned presentation.

As the parent of an autistic child and an historian there's quite a lesson in humility here. We can so readily size up the goofs of the past but you just know that in 10, 30, 50 years from now books and documentaries will find in our collective response to this autism phenomenon (which in the past week alone was subject of Newsweek cover story, a New York Times Op-Ed piece by prominent Washington policy guy/communication executive parents and big news on the fund-raising front) much ignorance, science fiction and self-delusion. But we do the best we can with our very poor human tools, as Dorothy Day liked to put it, quoting Eric Gill who surely was quoting someone else again. Just as Dorothy also liked to say she longed and worked for a world where it was a little easier to be good; so too must we work for a world where it's a little easier (and safer) for autistic persons to simply live, which is why we remember each day Katie McCarron; William Lash; Ryan Davies; Christopher DeGroot. And Ulysses Stable.

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Thanks for this post!My son has ADD, which doctors told us may be part of the same "family" of conditions like autism, Tourette's and Asperger's.So many people simply see these conditions as "discipline" problems and love to tell you what a crumby parent you are. You hear that often enough and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Long story short, testing put us on the right track. Meds, which people told us was a cop out, have helped. So has providing predictable routine, structure, coaching, frequent meetings with teachers, check-ups two or three times a year, etc.

Jean as an ADHD adult I have no doubt we're linked on the broader spectrum. After all these decades I find the collaborative approach you've adopted works best though the nuns at SS Simon & Jude and St. Bridget's schools were onto something in prescribing high-speed laps around parking lots at lunchtime.

Childhood disorders such as autism, ADD, dyslexia, non-verbal learning disorders, perception disorders, etc. are not increasing, IMO. What's happening is an improvement in the screening process and diagnosis so that kids with even mild forms of the disorder are being identified.Unfortunately, what is not improving is the selection of resources available to help children and parents who have to deal with these issues. Jean, I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend you go to www.ldonline.com and order Rick LaVoie's "How Difficult Can This Be: The F.A.T. City Workshop".If your child is still in school, my suggestion to you is that you order it and make it mandatory viewing at your next school conference. It is a life changing video.LaVoie has a new DVD out (Beyond F.A.T. City), but get the first one first. I discovered it when my son was diagnosed as being dyslexic, among other things, and my only regret is that I didn't find this video sooner.

Donna, do you mean IOM (Institute of Medicine)? Please expand your research if you are going to make statements. It takes witnessing a vaccine reaction to give one the stamina needed to research the subject thoroughly. Behavior disorders began increasing as vaccines given to infants began increasing. Infants receive 22 concoctions via 16 injections by the tiny age of six months. The '90's infants were injected with 187 mcg. of mercury which has created millions of distraught parents. I have read countless stories of severe autism cases and can't imagine the horror. The mercury killed the reasoning part of the brain but left the body. Some of these huge bodies are in the state of an 18 month old having a constant temper tantrum. Can anyone even begin to imagine what that must be like. What parent could even be sane after twelve years?

I don't know about that: since the mercury-based preservative was removed from the vaccines the incidence of autism has only seemed to increase: certainly has not decreased! We're pretty sure God makes these kids really different and the negative spin comes from outside observers not us: my wife Kristina is absolutely convinced Charlie was Charlie as we now know him in utero. It's really not such a horror at all though this autistic nine year old kid has challenges aplenty. As to sanity I'll let others judge though Kristina claims I for one am much saner today than before Charlie was diagnosed. For those who are really struggling or those simply interested I highly recommend two blogs: www.autismland.com and www.autismvox.com (full disclosure: they are Kristina's blogs but she is indeed one of the most trusted and respected folk in autismland)

Donna, thanks for the lead! We are trying to start a support group for parents of kids like ours--Live Wires Anonymous--and this might be a great thing to kick off our first meeting.And Jim, yes, I have often found that a "time-out" running laps around the house helps my son. It's kind of a refocus game--do three laps and see if you can beat your time.It lets off the nervous energy and seems to refocus attention.In fact, he now does this on his own without my suggestion when he's feeling overloaded, and we have been able to reduce the meds level as he gets better at figuring out self-control strategies. Yelling at kids to pay attention or isolating them until they "behave," which was the strategy of his school kindergarten teacher, do not work. The my son knew he was a problem and when you hear a 6 year old say he wishes he was dead because his teacher hates him and he has no friends, you know you have to act.I don't buy the vaccine horror stories in my son's case. I can trace four generations of ADD behavior in the men in my family. My son and my brother, who was diagnosed at 45 with ADD, has been a huge help in offering suggestions and helping me see my son's potential.

I have no idea what the impact vaccinations might or might not have on behavior disorders. My son, my sister's children, my brother's children, and my friends' children were all born around the same time, live in the same area, and received the same vaccinations at the same ages. My child is the only one who is dyslexic, which makes his original diagnosis of ADHD suspect, IMO.I also happen to be of the opinion that ADD/ADHD is grossly overdiagnosed and grossly mistreated by people who have no business making a diagnosis.I'm not saying that vaccines cause a problem. I'm not saying they don't. Regardless, there is substantial evidence to suggest that teachers and schools are much more aware of behavior disorders, identify them earlier in school, and make different recommendations than the old plan of smacking a child upside the head to make them sit still. The impact vaccinations may have on behavior disorders also doesn't address the additional problem of there being limited resources devoted to the mental health and behavioral development of children.ldonline.com has nothing to do with IOM. It's a resource site for parents of children with learning disabilities.

Jean, I initiated a support group at my son's school when he was in 2nd grade. If there's any help or advice I can offer, please do not hesitate to e-mail me.I've been down this very same road of having my son tell me how badly he was hurting from not having friends, the depression, the frustration, and everything that goes with it. I very quickly learned how to be a ferocious (and I mean ferocious!) advocate for my kid when it came to schools, teachers, and other parents. They were happy to see the back of me when he graduated from high school, but if I have any regrets at all it's for the times when I feel like I didn't do enough.Definitely get the video if you're starting a support group. I wish I could be there when you all watch it just because I love watching the lights go on over people's heads when they finally "get it".

These disorders are overdiagnosed in boys but underdiagnosed in girls. The symptoms are different for girls, less disruptive and more likely to present as classic underachievement. Nobody really knows why they seem more common, but it could be for the simple reason that we now focus on the academic achievement of every last child, whereas, in prior generations, the "unskilled" were simply shunted to an economically productive job that didn't require a long attention span and the ability to concentrate on close work. Plenty of people didn't make it through school. The other issue is, perhaps, the sheer lack of physical activity that accentuates the hyperactivity of children who literally have no other outlet for their excess energy. There is also no good explanation for why asthma and allergies have increased.

Well high or low functioning statistics or whateverAutism is whatever you see it as, it is constructed from a particular viewpoint which arose at the time when it did because of the way medicine and psychology was leading and because of the way that society is leading.Whatever the neurological substrates, the reality behind the statistics, the murder of an autistic is down to the way in which difference is devalued.I am one of those missing statistics from the past, and it is the current hysteria that is constructing autism as something worse than the black death, rather than as a part of humanity which was "swept under the carpet" in previous times.Call it what you will, it does not matter, we were always there to challenge the perspective of what it is to be human, because mistake me not, even ten years ago, the "experts" were dissing and devaluing the experience of those like me who are well capable of articulating our experiences after a life time of ignorance.I can't say that I am at a happy stage of my existence right now, and that is in no small measure down to the fact that we have never fitted in anyones neat round holes.

Wow! I had no idea that so many people haven't researched thimerosal. James, what are you talking about a 'decrease' after thimerosal was removed. When the data came in from California last March, there was a 21% decrease rather than the usual 13% increase. I need to send you people some information because the CDC, FDA, and vaccine manufacturers should not get away with this. They knew back in 1992 that behavior disorders were increasing at an alarming rate and even suspected the thimerosal but continued to inject it into your children in spite of evidence. God did not make our little Julie ASD. She was a happy, normal little baby until the day of her four month vaccines. To ask why some children become autistic after vaccines and some don't should be obvious...we're all different. Genetics dictate how much toxins any one of us can tolerate. The point is that thimerosal should never be in vaccines. Veterinarians banned it's use in 1991 because it was causing their cows to be unruly and unmanageable. And taking into consideration the bell curve, many children are just this side of autism (who's parents get blamed for their misbehavior) and then there are those who are severe. Why do you think the term "Mad as a hatter" was coined because of mercury poisoning. Here are some web sites that may help you understand what has happened to our children. www.thinktwice.com www.putchildrenfirst.org www.generationrescue.org www.safeminds.orgwww.vaccinetruth.orgAnd here is some info to Google:UC Davis thimerosal study; Deadly Immunity; National Vaccine Information Center; Mothering Magazine Article: New Columbia University Study Confirms ... Also research the lies surrounding the flu vaccine. Please become informed because the more you know, the more we can help one another with the '90's generation. Oh, and Barbara, the UC Davis Study will explain why asthma, allergies, juvenile diabetes, SIDS, exzema, and a host of other chronic illnesses are plagueing our children.

There is some info from the FDA on thimerosal here: http://www.fda.gov/CBER/vaccine/thimerosal.htmThis site says that IOM tests were inconclusive, but that the substance, used a a preservative in vaccines, is being phased out of vaccines.I appreciate JamS bringing this up, but I'd like to do more reading. FDA says this has been used in vaccines since the 1930s, but the fact that younger and more children are getting immunized may be a factor. Anyway, I have a doc's appointment in a couple of weeks, and I'm going to ask him about it.

The mmr/mercury theory is one explanation for what causes autism that, indeed, perseveres, and despite scientific studies (like the 2002 Danish study) that have not found evidence regarding this connection. The CDC continues to note that a connection between mmr/mercury and autism is inconclusive, as noted in a recent PedMed article. Yes, Safe Minds and Evidence of Harm make arguments to the contrary, but the research continues to be inconclusive. It is also the case that there appears to be a tendency in the media to rush to report about this issue, even if the research cited has not been published in a peer-reviewed study, but is, for instance, a poster presentation at a conference. This occurred in regard to Dr. Stephen Walker's poster presentation about finding "measles virus in the gut of a large number of children who have regressive autism and bowel disease." Dr. Walker himself stated that an actual link between the MMR vaccine and 'regressive autism' is 'tough to prove.' He further notes that "'We havent done anything to demonstrate that the measles virus is causing autism.'The topic of this post is not vaccines in children and whether or not there is a connection between the mmr vaccine or the use of the mercury-based preservative thimerasol in vaccines and autism; it is the killing of an autistic child by his father, and how we, with our poor human tools, might best respond and make the world a safer and better place for autistic persons.