Polly's pages (aka 'Donna Williams')

Ever the arty Autie

Autism and Munchausen By Proxy


Donna Williams aged 4 Do you think Munchausen by Proxy is not real? Or that it could not possibly effect a carer with an autistic child?

Do you think that suffocation abuse, or deliberate poisoning doesn’t occur or that a parent can’t cause brain injury this way? Or exacerbate existing disabilities? Think again.

In society carers with MSBP (also known as Factitious Disorder Imposed Upon Another, or FDIA and Pediatric Condition Falsification, PCF) are seemingly rare, but given its an addiction, and most of the children are harmed between 1-3 years old before they have enough speech to tell on their abuser, is MSBP more common in families where a child doesn’t speak and can never tell?

75-98% of those with Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy (MSBP) intentionally damaging their child are mothers. These women have combinations of (often undiagnosed) psychopathy, Narcissistic, Borderline and Histrionic Personality Disorders. The incidence of these in the human population is: Psychopathy 1%, Histrionic Personality Disorder 3%, Narcissistic and Borderline Personality Disorders 6%. It is therefore reasonable to assume that up to 1 in 20 mothers could have a predisposition to MSBP.

If the actions of an MSBP carer neurologically damages, developmentally derails, psychiatrically impairs and/or traumatises their child then that child may, theoretically, be more likely to ultimately get a diagnosis of autism. The majority of mothers with MSBP will present as overly loving, overly concerned mothers and commonly do not alert suspicion.

“People with FDIA/MSBP might create or exaggerate the child’s symptoms in several ways. They might simply lie about symptoms, alter diagnostic tests (such as contaminating a urine sample), falsify medical records, or induce symptoms through various means, such as poisoning, suffocating, starving, and causing infection. The presenting problem may also be psychiatric or behavioral.

The adult with FDIA/MSBP often will not leave the bedside and will discuss in medical detail symptoms and care provided as evidence that he or she is a good caretaker.”

source: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases_conditions/hic_An_Overview_of_Factitious_Disorders/hic_Munchausen_Syndrome/hic_Munchausen_Syndrome_by_Proxy

IF a child with autism has a parent with one or more of these personality disorders, professionals should at least consider the severity of the child’s autism, health issues, behaviours or psychiatric co-morbidities in this wider context. Carers with Munchausen By Proxy should not be allowed to hide out protected by the autism community who are too afraid to face or admit they have any carers with MSBP in their midst. As a community, we should not, must not, keep schtum.

Donna Williams, BA Hons, Dip Ed.
Author, artist,and presenter.

I acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the Traditional Owners of this country throughout Australia, and their connection to land and community.