Asperger’s Syndrome is an autism spectrum related disorder involving difficulties with social behavior and associated obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) type behaviors.
It is classified as a limited autistic type disorder, as patients appear to have normal speech and cognitive development patterns, with awkward physical malfeasance, and a peculiar use of language.
Doctors prefer to refer to it as a developmental disability, as it does not have the one of the hallmarks of high functioning autism, mental retardation.
The AS disorder, as it has been referred to, has been in the news of late because of a Minnesota couples mistreatment of their son, who has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a mild form of autism.
The boys parents, Angela and Gregory Danner, have been charged by Dakota County (MN) prosecutors with one count each of malicious punishment of a child and neglect.
The charges are gross misdemeanors, and if convicted, the couple could be sentenced to up to 2 years in jail and a fine of up to $6000.00 dollars.
Police say the investigation began on April 2nd, when the boy told an Eagan, MN police officer that his mother and step-father had locked him in his room all the time, and removed the mattress and boxspring from his room, forcing him to sleep on the floor, and blocked all light from entering the room and also installed a video surveillance camera so they could monitor his movements.
After social workers confronted the Danner’s, they removed the window coverings, and replaced the light bulb in his room, but still keeping him locked away except when he did chores and to use the bathroom.
It was disclosed in the charges brought by county attorneys that the boy was subjected to massive amounts of physical exercise daily, with the boy having to do 1,500 to 2,000 pushups per day, as well as run several miles in the cold. When social workers checked back with the boy in May, he told them that his parents were planning for him to run 3 miles a day as “Therapy” to rid him of the effects of his Asperger’s Syndrome.
“This is a 15 year old boy, not a Marine recruit being put through that type of discipline on a daily basis. That is an unusual circumstance that crossed the boundary of what is appropriate under the law,” said Dakota County Attorney James Backstorm.
The boy, now 16 years old, is in the custody of his biological father, David Nalls, who commented, ” He gets to have a good childhood now. He’s not in a dark room, he can shower when he wants, he has clean clothes — not just a peanut butter sandwich and a glass of water.”
The boy had indicated earlier that he was only given a peanut butter sandwich to eat once in a while, and the Danner’s limited the availability of him to use the shower, telling him to take a shower when he visited his father. He was also limited to washing his clothes when his biological father gave him laundry soap, and then not allowed to use the washing machine itself, he had to hand wash the items in the sink.
Neighbors described the couple as “unusual,” and one neighbor even snapped a photo of the step-father, Gregory Danner doing yard work dressed only in a pink thong.
Abuse of a child is incomprehensible at any level, but when the child is developmentally disabled, it becomes criminal at some point, and the need for education is omnipresent.
Watch this video from KMSP-TV Fox9 News in Eagan, Mn for more details.
Article by Jim Donahue