What Parents of Autistic Children and Adults Should Know and What We Need Now To Make a Change
- Stealth abuse is the most dangerous kind of abuse
- Stealth abuse is furtive, secret and imperceptible (unless you catch it on video surveillance)
- Stealth abusers operate under color of authority and often masquerade as caring, professionals, “here to help.”
- Stealth abusers are masters at manipulating people in real time, but aren’t as savvy when they’re alone, and nobody is around (another reason video surveillance that records helps detect their covert abuse)
- Stealth abusers often enlist family members to defend their actions, at all costs, since they’ve worked on these family members using different forms of abuse, for instance, financial control, blackmail or unwarranted shame and humiliation tactics (warranted VS unwarranted, as in difference between media shaming child abusers vs. an abusive father shaving his son’s head because he didn’t take out the garbage)
- Stealth abusers study the victim to learn how to cover the abuse done (for instance, a stealth abuser caring for an Alzheimer’s patient may say she’s ‘lost her mind’ if she claims she’s being abused)
- Stealth abusers passively aggressively retaliate against victims and their families if they attempt to expose abuse or have exposed abuse (i.e...making anonymous calls to various agencies accusing the victim or victim’s family of wrongdoing, slashing tires, spiking food, poisoning animals or breaking appliances)
- Stealth abusers often have clear backgrounds (they’ve never been convicted of a felony, and if charged they are always, in their minds, innocent)
- Stealth abusers are often people who infiltrate your lives while they hold high positions of power, or possess professional training skills
- Stealth abusers like to shift the blame (i.e...blaming victim or victim’s family for abuse)
- Stealth abusers learn how to work every vulnerable spot of the victim’s life, for instance a self injurious autistic is easy prey, because, in the absence of video surveillance, injuries can be blamed on self-abuse.
- Stealth abusers can make victims or their families feel crazy for suspecting abuse
Would hiring a private investigator uncover these monsters? Not likely. Why? Because the abuse is ambient, furtive and imperceptible to even trained eyes
One has to understand the world these types of abusers live in, and how they operate.
Unless the stealth abuser is in direct contact with the victim, it is impossible to catch the abuse. Stealth abusers aren’t going around telling people they abuse their victims. They aren’t posting on Facebook or other social media that they are stealth abusers. Thankfully, some abusers are unsophisticated enough to post their abuse, but not the stealth abuser. No, this guy saves his abuse for seconds he thinks nobody is looking.
Hence, the only way you catch this TYPE of abuser is by video surveillance
Families raising vulnerable autistic children and adults must realize how important it is to get video in rooms where caregivers are watching your autistic child. Good caregivers don’t mind being watched. A stealth abuser despises being watched and thinks he can avoid detection or is somehow able to beat the odds of being caught on video. Eventually, however, as time ticks, the stealth abuser, because he is a monster, will no longer care if he’s watched and will create the illusion in his mind that he can do whatever he wants and not be caught.
Do not hesitate to install video surveillance in your home if you feel your autistic child is being abused, especially if the child is non-verbal.
If your child is in a group home, don’t bother to ask for video surveillance as the State of California claims it’s a violation of the disabled person’s “civil rights” to have a camera in a state run and funded home or institution. Go figure.
Autism advocates are fighting this. Indeed, those who have autistic children or siblings or friends who have been killed within a state funded group home or institution, are demanding, through legislative action, video surveillance. I think it’s a great pro-active and acute protection.
After all, my autistic son would still be being victimized by stealth abusers if we didn’t put in video surveillance. It’s the only effective way to capture the sick reality of stealth abuse.
What more can be done to protect vulnerable autistic people in our society?
For starters, state agencies such as California Regional Centers should step up and take a more active role in providing safe supports and resources for families who need nursing or behavioral respite care. Simply sending a family a list of caregivers doesn’t cut it. Nor does referring a family to a nursing agency, especially when the agency they are referred to, repeatedly says they have no nurses.
In light of what has happened to my autistic son, will society simply be temporarily outraged and saddened by my son’s story? Will people make drive by comments and then go back to their lives? Will professionals express outrage, but then go back to their cubicles, seminars and symposiums and take no corrective action to ensure no family receiving respite care must be burdened with the sole responsibility for ensuring caregivers are kind, compassionate and qualified individuals matched to the individual needs of a client, consumer or patient?
What exactly is San Diego Regional Center doing? What is Adult Protective Services (APS) doing? These are reactive agencies. San Diego Regional Center often battles against parents who ask for services and supports. They cut services. They’ve been using the same budget cut excuse since 1990.
APS waltzes in when there’s a bruise, has no medial, behavioral or autism expertise or knowledge of the complex, fragmented funding system serving disabled, writes a report and splits. They are in no position to set up video surveillance.
These are agencies that aren’t going to detect or discern stealth abuse.
Sadly, this will fall on parents, and it seems we have no choice. Should it remain that way? Don’t we have enough on our plates?
If state agencies charged with duty to provide supports and services to autistic individuals truly care about autism community, they will do more to help effect change, instead of asking the same old questions, calling for more meetings, writing more reports and then trudging back to their offices and doing the same old nothing.
How change will happen will depend upon the soft hearts and sharp minds of caring individuals inside California Regional Centers and other agencies funding services and supports for families of autistic children and adults.
We’re beyond the autism awareness factor now. We know. Now it is time to act.
State funded agencies must offer families of autistic children and adults a richer and more diverse pool of highly screened respite care professionals who can help support our children in the home, and if needed, in a group home. No more excuses. Let’s work together to protect all autistic individuals in our community.
Kim Oakley, Mother of Jamey