Autism / Custody Battles – Kennedy Krieger researchers find autism does not affect family structure

May 19, 2010 – 80 Percent Autism Divorce Rate Debunked in First-Of-Its Kind Scientific Study

Brian Freedman, PhD, lead author of the study and clinical director of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders at Kennedy Krieger Institute, said the findings seem to debunk a lot of the general understanding about high divorce rates among parents of children with autism.

Dear parents: If you read this press release ( and you are involved in a custody battle and you are also a parent of a child on the autism spectrum, we need you!

Please let your voices be heard.


Megan Lustig, PR Kennedy Krieger Institute
Phone: 202-955-6222

Dr. Brian Freedman at

My email to Dr. Freedman and Megan Lustig:

Dr. Freedman, I am writing to you with all due respect to thank you for debunking the autism divorce rate. However, I challenge you to take a trip with me to the NY Family Courts one day. For arguments sakes, July 14 2010.  What you will learn there will astound you. Although couples may not be getting divorced, they are certainly involved in horrendous custody battles. And of all the fathers and mothers in the family courts involved in custody battles, (many of them never married), of all the ones I personally asked, their families were touched my autism.

Personally, I have 4 children, 2 of them already diagnosed on the spectrum. The baby has all the precursors too. I lost custody three months ago. The allegations? “mental health issues” “excessively dragging the children around town for unnecessary therapies, confusing and upsetting the children. Temporarily, for the safety of the children, the mother should be excluded from the marital residence”.

My baby was breastfeeding at the time.

Dr. Freedman, I am turning to you because your findings had the ability to reach global attention. I feel that you might want to take a simple visit to the courts and just see what is going on. Perhaps you can change the word “Autism/Divorce” to “Autism/Custody battles”.

It happens to be that I am married still to my abusive husband. I cannot get divorced until I agree to the custody arrangements. How can I agree?  How can I allow a man to raise four children, it goes against all of what nature has designed?  How can I sit back and humbly hand over the SSI disability checks, courtesy of our federal government, while my spouse proudly proclaimed in court that he “firmly disputes the diagnosis” and then proudly closed their IEP cases with the Board of Education. For his ego in courts, there is nothing wrong with the children. For his wallet, the disability checks work well with him.

I am pleading to you to rethink this ‘myth’ and approach it from a new angle. If you need me to walk the walk and get poll sheets filled out by other parents in the courts, I am offering my reliable and unshakable devotion to the cause.

Thank you so much.

A grieving mother of four, NY

Response from Dr. Brian Freedman, Clinical Director, Kennedy Krieger Institute

Posted on July 30, 2010

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