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.