Some people think of autism as a mental health illness, this is incorrect. We may have co-existing mental health issues, such as depression.
In this post, I am referring to autistic people without severe learning disabilities.
I wanted to discuss something I call the ‘autism excuse’. A lot of autistic people are perfectly capable of knowing or learning the difference between right and wrong.
A friend of mine was recently assaulted by a teenager, who’s peer group said “You can’t do anything, he’s autistic.” This sort of thing makes my blood boil; there is a world of difference between a neurological overload and illegality.
Let’s look at this for a moment, the cold hard and unfeeling thinking of a jurisprudential mind says the there are two components to a criminal action (1) the actual reus – the act, and the (2) the men’s rea – the required mental state or intention.
At the point of a meltdown, a person has little or no control over their actions, they are simply overwhelmed and therefore there is no mental intention or at the very least it is impaired. There may be times that this will have a bearing on legal proceedings.
In the event that a person strikes out, kicks, head buts , grabs or something like that at a point of overload, it’s outside of their control. Grabbing a person’s glasses and breaking them, well that’s a deliberate and calculated act.
So when faced with a situation, ask yourself whether the individual is actually in control before accepting the unacceptable.