We all tend to engage in dangerous behaviors at some point in our lives. Usually, this happens in very small children who don’t know any better or teenagers who want to get wild and risky while under some questionable influences. But what happens when young adults engage in it? is it made worse if they have autism? Let’s take a look.
According to a study published in October in Autism Research, nearly a third of young people with autism put themselves or others in danger in any given three-month period, and nearly 25 percent of them will not have seen a mental health professional during that time. This study is based on a parent survey looking at people with autism between the ages of 3 and 25. The survey was sent out to a large database of families with autistic children, but only 462 families, amounting to 7 percent of those who received it, actually completed it. The leader of this biostatistical analysis, Luther Kalb, assistant professor of neuropsychology at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, says the results may overestimate the prevalence of these events because families who experienced them are more likely to respond. The researchers also adjusted their analysis to account for this bias, as he adds that it’s still common enough to warrant attention. Bias accounts for many autism cases, so it’s nice to see that these people take biases into account when doing their research.
According to the study, in children with autism younger than 12, the incidents tend to be related to self-injury, wandering, or running away. In young people between the ages of 12 and 25, the episodes often involved physical and verbal aggression, usually aimed at the parents. The younger the person with autism and the lower their quality of life, as reported by a parent, the more likely they are to have one of these incidents. Having poor language skills and a parent with depression can also increase these chances. I don’t know what would’ve happened to me if I had a different set of parents. I can’t help but wonder what the parents of the kids observed were going through when they were asked to participate in this study.
This work may help parents and clinicians develop plans to preempt and manage dangerous behaviors in children with autism. Kalb says that we can start identifying populations that may need more intervention than others.