Friday night, my husband and I were watching CNN, blank and unbelieving.

That was when I first heard the link made of the shooter’s potential autism.

“The shooter was autistic?” I said, glancing up from the laptop. I watched the ticker splash a heading including the word Asperger’s and I sighed.

“They think he had Asperger’s?”

I think about my little boy, who I believe may be autistic or potentially somewhere on the spectrum. He is four years old and most people I know have never heard of Aspergers, much less what it is, until I explain it to them. Most don’t know much about autism, outside of the extreme cases, like the one depicted in Rainman.

So now, to find that something that people know so little about is linked to someone that people want to speculate about is concerning.

I understand – we need a reason for what happened, something to justify the unjustifiable. We need something to point a finger at and say, “Ah, that’s it! That’s how he could do such an awful thing!”

But as a parent, I find myself thinking of my boy – my gentle, quiet little boy who loves Cars and eating only the frosting portion of his cupcake – and I’m wondering, “Is this what people will think about when they find he has autism? That he might be dangerous?”

I am not a doctor. I won’t pretend that I know the in’s and out’s of autism, because I don’t. I am a mom. I love my little boy and worry about my little boy and the thought that someone might generalize a whole group of people – a group that he very well may be a part of – based on the actions of one, is a scary one.

I am hoping that in the weeks and months to come, that more attention is given to mental illness and to the treatment of it, and to increasing our knowledge about autism. That we continue to support this grieving community after the news coverage stops and after the cameras go away.

That we pause an extra moment before we judge.

4 thoughts on “links.

  1. Last night, I sat in the home of friend, next to her 10 year old son. He’s so sweet… sitting quietly, smiling almost always. He’s very soft spoken, but his eyes are kind and interested. He has autism, as well. Like you, I hope the general public won’t over generalize. In a way, I winced when I read he had been homeschooled for a bit. We homeschool, and I could see people saying things like “See? Homeschooling turns kids into sociopaths!” You just pray that people have more sense than that. That they see individuals and not labels, you know?

    Thank you for sharing honestly.

    • Thank you for your comments, Jacci. It had been something that was bothering me since I saw the report and so this was just my way of “getting it out.” :) As parents, I think it’s our responsibility to make the decisions that are the best for our kids. I’m not disciplined enough to homeschool, but definitely respect those that do!

  2. I have a brother who is severely autistic. One of the children in our household has an Asperger’s diagnosis, but we see spectrum traits/behaviors in all of us. My partner and I know that one reason we are together is feeling that we’ve finally found a person who “gets” us–and what we get is the other’s need to be alone, to avoid certain kinds of sensory experiences, to express things in certain ways (and that there are some ways in which we simply cannot express ourselves).

    Autism and spectrum disorders are not mental illnesses–and wish the media had done a better job of making this distinction. I believe that Asperger’s is not a disorder so much as it is a simple difference. It is a disorder only in that those with it have difficulty functioning in the way the majority have deemed necessary.

    That said, if you believe your son might have Asperger’s, you might want to have him evaluated. I began learning about Asperger’s in girls because of our daughters–and was amazed to see myself in what I read. It was at first upsetting, but then freeing. It gave me a way to finally understand so many things, and to forgive myself for traits I’d always seen as failings. It helped me learn strategies for dealing with all kinds of things, which has improved the quality of my life.

    The main benefit of a diagnosis will be a greater ability to get your son what he needs in school. Our child does not have an IEP, but she does have what is called a 504 plan–it provides some accommodations that help her function better in school, which can be a challenging place.

    Hope this information is helpful.

    • Thank you so much, Rita. There is so much information that I have been able to find online, but it is reassuring to be able to connect with someone who understands.

      (Oh, I noticed that the way I worded that last sentence sounds like I looped autism in with mental illness – that was pretty confusing. I didn’t word that very well. :) Totally know that autism is a neurological difference, not mental illness.)

      About the evaluation, I had mentioned to our pediatrician at our last visit a year ago that I believed our son may have Asperger’s/high functioning autism and at the time, he wanted to wait to evaluate until our son turned four. (We are due for our four year visit.) Our doctor, actually told us at the time that he has Asperger’s, himself, which made us feel even more comfortable working with him.

      I, too, have seen several Asperger’s traits in myself and I have found it has helped to make sense of my experiences, as well. Thank you for sharing your story with me.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s