A Virginia man with autism was attacked and beaten by a mob of youths on March 18.
The man and a female friend were walking home from a grocery store in Richmond when they were attacked, reports WTVR.
The incident was captured on camera, and the male victim said he hoped people who saw the video would recognize what he called "a vicious gang of kids."
"They slammed me to the ground and beat the crap out of me,” he said. "My eyes were black, missing teeth, got up, and I was dizzy and dripping blood."
The television station decided to protect the anonymity of the two victims.
The man said as they were walking back from the store, they noticed group of kids hanging at a street corner and tried to avoid them. But the kids came after them and attacked.
The attackers were reportedly teen boys and girls, all wearing hoodies and similar clothing. "All they kept saying was ‘bam, bam, bam,’” he said.
"This needs to stop," his father said. Beatings like this have happened previously, WTVR notes. "Winos, prostitutes, anybody that's walking from 7-Eleven, they're jumping on them," the father added.
While this was the first time this type of incident was caught on camera, the television station believes this has happened before in the same spot.
It was not reported whether or not his son's autism had anything to do with him being attacked.
Autism spectrum disorder is defined by the National Institute of Health as "the name for a group of developmental disorders. ASD includes a wide range, 'a spectrum,' of symptoms, skills, and levels of disability."
The NIH explains that those with ASD often have similar characteristics:
- Ongoing social problems that include difficulty communicating and interacting with others
- Repetitive behaviors as well as limited interests or activities
- Symptoms that hurt the individual’s ability to function socially, at school or work, or other areas of life
In addition to those challenges, people with ASD often also have many strengths and abilities, which are also listed by the NIH:
- Having above-average intelligence.
- Being able to learn things in detail and remember information for long periods of time.
- Being strong visual and auditory learners.
- Excelling in math, science, music, or art.
Although negative symptoms of ASD can lead to violent behavior, those with the condition are more likely to be victims than victimizers, according to the Interactive Autism Network.
"Children with autism are bullied more often than other children, although they can occasionally be bullies themselves," explains the organization.