Together as a country we are mourning the children and adults senselessly killed in the Newtown, CT tragedy. We will all go through our stages of grief, in our own way and at our own pace. We will try to press forward with the holidays, and at the same time be constantly thinking of the families involved. It does not leave us, even when moving about our day.
So I hope this doesn’t appear insensitive as I discuss something that came out of the event that has effected me directly. My heart is right there with you, but it is something that has upset the entire Autism community… and I want to touch on it, being that this is a family blog about Autism.
At some point in the frantic reporting of the days horrific events, a reporter stated that it was heard the shooter had Aspergers. It was also heard from multiple sources who didn’t want to go on record that the shooter’s mother was a teacher at the school, they attained a name and identified the wrong person as the killer, and whatever happened to that guy in the woods of the school that they brought in to question?
Remember, reporters these days are not reporting FACTS. They’re reporting what they think will give them the next big break, or the biggest amount of views. They are essentially reporting idle gossip and speculation. Please be careful about what you believe… ask questions and always look to FACTS before you label an individual, let alone insinuate an entire group of people are more dangerous.
Speaking from my own life, with my own children with Autism (Aspergers is Autism), the link is ridiculous. Is my child socially inappropriate at times? Yes. Meaning he doesn’t understand body language, or struggles in school because of his short attention span and sensory issues. He has a hard time organizing… which leads to needing help or seemingly ignoring the teachers. HE is NOT dangerous. If fact, one of the biggest lies people seem to believe about Autism is that they lack empathy. You cannot imagine how frustrating it is to hear that out in the news, when kids with Autism DO, in fact, have empathy. They just don’t show it in the same way. That is TOTALLY different.
My son literally could not hurt a fly… he is upset if we try to swat them. And there have been times when we find a bug at a store and he is so distraught that we HAVE to bring it outside to a bush “to give the poor thing a chance” and to prevent it from being stepped on. If he sees his brother or sister get hurt, he is much more concerned than other 11 year olds would be. In fact, at times, I’ve had to tell him to back up a bit and give us a little space because he is crowding me and trying to help too much.
Please don’t listen to reporter’s gossip of “so-and-so told me” and be part of vilifying an innocent group of people as a way to find answers in a senseless act.
Let us continue to pray for the victims and their families while holding our own families closer, as well.
Thank you for listening.
I know this is long, but I hope you will read the statements below and consider them as well.
From Diary of a Mom’s Website:
“Fear becomes truth. Misconceptions and misperceptions and outright lies become the popular zeitgeist. Autistic people who have struggled for so long to be understood — who have finally, painstakingly made strides in changing age-old misconceptions
about who they are – who have begun to be seen by society in all of the glory of their complete human dimension are suddenly and terrifyingly thrown back at warp speed to the days of Boo Radley – to a time when it’s okay to channel society’s fear into that which is different – to point fingers at that difference and to connect it to evil – to blame it for incomprehensibly monstrous acts and in so doing to make them the target of all of our sadness and anger and desperate, aching fear that it could happen again.
The media reports back on itself. The news itself becomes its own story. How many times have we heard in the past twenty-four hours. “As we reported in the wake of the Aurora tragedy …”
Every time that we let this go, every time that those with a platform to make a change stand by in silence, fear grows.”
She also posts this statement from ASAN (Autistic Self Advocacy Network) :
“Our hearts go out to the victims of today’s shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and their families. Recent media reports have suggested that the perpetrator of this violence, Adam Lanza, may have been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a diagnosis on the autism spectrum, or with another psychiatric disability. In either event, it is imperative that as we mourn the victims of this horrific tragedy that commentators and the media avoid drawing inappropriate and unfounded links between autism or other disabilities and violence. Autistic Americans and individuals with other disabilities are no more likely to commit violent crime than non-disabled people. In fact, people with disabilities of all kinds, including autism, are vastly more likely to be the victims of violent crime than the perpetrators. Should the shooter in today’s shooting prove to in fact be diagnosed on the autism spectrum or with another disability, the millions of Americans with disabilities should be no more implicated in his actions than the non-disabled population is responsible for those of non-disabled shooters.
Today’s violence was the act of an individual. We urge media, government and community leaders to speak out against any effort to spuriously link the Autistic or broader disability community with violent crime. Autistic Americans and other groups of people with disabilities persist in facing discrimination and segregation in school, the workplace and the general community. In this terrible time, our society should not further stigmatize our community. As our great nation has so many times in the past, let us come together to both mourn those killed by acts of heinous murder and defend all parts of our country from the scourge of stigma and prejudice.”
And from Disability and Representation:
“Let’s get something straight right now. Autistic people have meltdowns because their sensory systems get overloaded and it hurts more than anyone who has never experienced it could understand. And yes, sometimes, people strike out in the course of a meltdown. Not always, but sometimes. Often, they strike out at themselves. And when they do strike out, it’s a spontaneous act. It’s a neurological response that is not even remotely close to premeditating a murder.
People in the midst of a meltdown do not take the time and the forethought to arm themselves with a bullet-proof vest and several weapons, make their way to an elementary school, and consciously target two particular classrooms of children and the school office. In fact, most people in the midst of a meltdown just want to withdraw and get away from people and the stressors that cause overload.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Autism is not a predisposing factor to premeditated violence. Autistic people are far, far more likely to be the victims of crime than its perpetrators.”