Maltreatment and ASD

What Is Child Maltreatment?

According to the CDC, child maltreatment “includes all types of abuse and neglect of a child under the age of 18 by a parent, caregiver, or another person in a custodial role.” This includes all four types of abuse:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Neglect

Such abuse results in “actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power.” This can lead to injury or death and serious life-long consequences. Children who have dealt with maltreatment are at increased risk for problems like these:

  • perpetrating or being a victim of violence
  • depression
  • smoking
  • obesity
  • high-risk sexual behaviours
  • unintended pregnancy
  • alcohol and drug misuse

Autism Abuse and Neglect

Sadly, studies have shown that children with developmental disabilities like autism are more likely to be abused than their non-disabled peers. This includes abuse and neglect at home, as well as autism abuse in schools or workplaces. Forms of maltreatment that can occur in school settings include physical abuse (hitting, kicking, or slapping), verbal or emotional abuse (taunting), and neglect (leaving a child unattended for long periods of time).

Because children with autism may lack speech development and language skills, it can be difficult for the child to communicate about his or her experiences. In these cases, parents and caregivers need to take extra care when observing for signs like bruising on a child’s body (physical abuse), malnutrition (emotional neglect), and more serious issues such as head trauma from domestic violence or physical abuse by other family members.

To help prevent abuse, it’s crucial to promote the awareness and knowledge of autism and the struggles that people with ASD face. Here at HippoTherapy Helps, we strive to be a resource in this fight. We run an online hub for all things hippotherapy, and provide funding to raise awareness and increase access to therapeutic treatment. Through the HippoTherapy House, we will offer an adult autism assisted living facility nestled in a therapeutic equine community. 

You can learn more about what we do and how we support autism awareness, or join our community now to find your tribe. We’d love to have you! Sponsor a ride or make a donation to change someone’s life today!