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December 2010



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First Published Tuesday, 27th May, 2008.

*At the request of the Tseglin Family, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network
sent the following letter yesterday for use in a court hearing to determine
the future of Nate Tseglin. If you are as of yet unfamiliar with Nate’s
case, please visit
* for details. Please feel free to distribute.*

To Whom It May Concern:

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) is an international organization
of adults and youth on the autism spectrum, including Asperger’s Syndrome,
working to promote the interests of the autistic self-advocate community
through public policy and social change advocacy. We are writing as friends
of the court to express our concern about the treatment of Nate Tseglin, a
young adult with a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome who has been taken away
from his family and placed in an institution under heavy psychotropic

The right of individuals with disabilities to live in the community has been
well established by the United States Supreme Court under the landmark
Olmstead v. L.C. decision. The ruling requires states to shift funding from
institutional placements to community living supports. Given the clear
evidence that institutional settings and the indiscriminate use of
psychotropic medication negatively impact the quality of life of autistic
adults and youth, we are concerned by Nate’s continued placement under
restraint in a residential facility where he is isolated from his family,
his community, and any meaningful educational or social opportunities. The
overwhelming consensus of the scientific community indicates that such a
placement is inappropriate, unnecessary, and counterproductive.

Scientific studies have not found that autistic persons are more likely to
commit violent acts or violent crimes than non-autistic persons despite some
media sensationalism of isolated cases of violence (Murrie, Warren,
Kristiannsson, & Dietz, 2002; Barry-Walsh & Mullen, 2004). Autistic persons
are, however, more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and low
self-esteem, for which cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) and one-on-one talk
counseling are the recommended interventions (Stewart, Barnard, Pearson,
Hasan, & O’Brien, 2006; Sofronoff, Attwood, & Hinton, 2005). Autistic
persons also require positive support systems, frequent encouragement and
praise, and living and learning environments that are compatible with their
cognitive strengths, challenges, and preferences in order to achieve success
in their life pursuits and gain a high quality of life (Renty & Roeyers,
2006; Plimley, 2007). Psychotropic medications should always be used with
extreme caution with autistic persons as typically these medications are not
specifically tested on this population in clinical studies, and psychotropic
medications may cause substantial harm if used in an indiscriminate fashion.

Nate’s current placement does not meet his needs and is likely to result in
long-term physical and emotional damage. We urge the Court to recommend that
Nate be removed from the Fairview Developmental Center and returned to the


Ari Ne’eman
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network,
1101 15th Street, NW Suite 1212
Washington, DC 20005
(732) 763-5530

Scott Michael Robertson
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network,
Vice President
(973) 464-6315


Barry-Walsh, J. B., & Mullen, P. E. (2004). Forensic Aspects of Asperger’s
Syndrome. The Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology, 15(1),
96-107.Murrie, D. C.,

Warren, J. I., Kristiannsson, M., & Dietz, P. E. (2002). Asperger’s Syndrome
in Forensic Settings. International Journal of Forensic Mental Health, 1(1),

Plimley, L. A. (2007). A Review Of Quality Of Life Issues And People With
Autism Spectrum Disorders. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 35(4),

Renty, J. O., & Roeyers, H. (2006). Quality of life in high-functioning
adults with autism spectrum disorder: The predictive Value of Disability And
Support Characteristics. Autism, 10(5), 511-524.

Sofronoff, K., Attwood, T., & Hinton, S. (2005) A randomised controlled
trial of a CBT intervention for anxiety in children with Asperger syndrome,
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 46 (11) , 1152–1160

Stewart, M. E., Barnard, L., Pearson, J., Hasan R., & O’Brien, G. (2006)
Presentation of depression in autism and Asperger syndrome: A review,
Autism, 10 (1), 103-116

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