Maryland family with autistic twin adult sons at center of abuse case

John Land and Janice Land.  Booking photos via Montgomery County, MD, police.  They are reported to have kept their autistic, twin adult sons locked up at night in their basement, which lacks a bathroom.


John Land and Janice Land. Booking photos via Montgomery County, MD, police. They are reported to have kept their autistic, twin adult sons locked up at night in their basement, which lacks a bathroom.

Coping with autistic adult children who have limited socialization ability is a daily challenge for parents.

A recent Washington Post article profiled a family in Rockville, MD who resorted to extreme measures that sound like abuse: locking their two twin sons, 22 years old, in a "barren basement room every night" with "no lights, no bed."

But many families with similarly challenged adult children must make difficult decisions regarding their care:

The criminal allegations against Janice and John Land that erupted last week in Montgomery County have captured the attention of many — but no group more so than other parents who are caring for the growing number of autistic children entering adulthood. “We can’t condone their choices,” says Mark Bucknam, a professor at the National War College who lives two miles from the Lands. Court papers say that the young men were kept in a room with no working lights and a comforter on a bare tile floor. “But it’s possible that, in their minds, this was the least bad way to deal with this,” Bucknam says.

The Land's sons will be temporarily cared for by a guardian, reports the Post today. They are now at the center of a legal battle that seems unlikely to result in a happy outcome for anyone:

There are two proceedings in the case. In the criminal matter, police allege the room where the children slept had no furniture, carried an overwhelming odor of urine and had no working lights. Lynch declined to comment on the allegations, other than to say she will likely be advancing the Land’s side of the case in the weeks ahead.

John Land’s father said the allegations are overstated, given the challenges posed by the twins, who were non-verbal, given to running off and had regressed after being toilet trained.

In the other proceeding, the county’s Department of Health and Human Services is seeking guardianship. The young men have been moved into a group home, according to court records.

Start the discussion at bbs.boingboing.net