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On Developmental Disorders

Recently, I have been reading books about the relationship between juvenile delinquency and crime and developmental disorders. Along with advances in brain science, we have become more aware of developmental disorders in children. Among children who were once considered as "preferring to play by themselves" or as "not being able to play well with friends," we now recognize that in some, this behavior is caused by brain function impairment. As seen last year when a sixth-grade girl fatally stabbed a classmate at an elementary school in Sasebo, children involved in these shocking incidents are often suspected to have developmental disorders.
For details: http://www.childresearch.net/cgi-bin/topics/column.pl?no=00222&page=1
To avoid misunderstanding, first let me state that I am not implying that children with developmental disorders are likely to engage in delinquency or criminal behavior and thus some sort of measures must be taken.

Yoko Fujikawa, a family court counselor, speaks at academic conferences and has authored general works on the relationship between juvenile delinquency and crime and developmental disorders. Incorporating an interest in pediatric psychology, her publications provide an account of the circumstances that lead a child with pervasive developmental disorders to juvenile crime within the context of growth history and home environment. This sequence of events and the reason may be hard to understand for people who do not have a developmental disorder, but when considered in light of the particular characteristics of the disorder, the behavior does make sense in some respects. Fujikawa contends that if we are going to lower the incidence of juvenile delinquency and crime, it is important to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Fujikawa insists this means understanding children who engage in juvenile crime and implementing measures to prevent recurrence, and this also applies to children with developmental disorders.

Mikio Sato, a journalist with experience as a special education teacher, has published an account of the court case involving a boy with a developmental disorder who killed a girl in Asakusa, Tokyo in April 2001. Taking the position that the incident cannot be explained without knowledge of the boy's development disorder, Sato reviewed the court records and interviewed people associated with the case. Why did he kill the girl? Getting to the bottom of this question and explaining the boy's state of mind requires substantial knowledge of autism, but the police spent only a few hours making a record of the investigation which was then submitted and used in court. Although investigating the root cause of the incident is necessary to prevent recurrence, this, unfortunately, did not happen in court.

On April 1, 2005, the Developmental Disabilities Support Act went into effect in Japan. This law is intended to support people with development disorders in all areas of life, including development, education, and work. The fact that this law squarely addresses developmental disorders as the object of support is commendable. How can we support people with disorders who generally have trouble communicating? "Translators" like Yoko Fujikawa and Mikio Sato are crucial to this effort. What sort of programs and initiatives are in place in foreign countries? I would like to hear about these efforts.