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Is it Child Abuse or Autism?



I have a grandson, he is 15. He has been diagnosed as autistic, having adhd, as a paranoid schizophrenic and bi-polar. Recently, he has regressed so much this last year, due to many problems with his father (he has residential custody). The father does not agree that there is a learning disability, and thinks a pill will cure everything.  The doctors decided that my grandson was just severly depressed.  I believe he is being physically abused by his father.  We know for sure of 2 incidences that father admitted to us. My grandson has regressed to the point that he was soiling his pants, not eating, looking at food as if he didn`t know what to do with it. We have contacted many people, lawyers, doctors, children services, children`s hospitals, and we need to know if abuse could cause all this!


Autism can be a difficult diagnosis to make, and many other developmental and mental health concerns need to be considered in making the diagnosis. The diagnosis of autism can be made prior to when a child is 3 years old, and it would be unusual for a child to be first diagnosed at 15.  If a child was seen by qualified professionals at a regional medical center, then you have probably been given an appropriate course of treatment.

Depression is a very treatable condition.  Medication and psychotherapy often work in combination to relieve symptoms.  If this child also has a learning disability, coordinated efforts on the part of special educators, caregivers, and mental health providers should be pursued.  This will include a comprehensive psychoeducational evaluation, the development of an Individualized Education Plan, and counseling.

Also, the child endangerment issues you raised are of real concern. It is important to stay in touch with the correct people who can respond to these charges, namely the local child protective services agency.

For more information:

Go to the Autism health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Eric   Butter, PhD Eric Butter, PhD
Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatricsl
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychology
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University