I know many of my friends were looking for me to say something about the recent reports that the Sandy Hook Elementary murderer had Asperger’s and that somehow played a role in the horrible things he did. Up to this point, I have remained silent because I was so angered by the media sharing their very limited information as fact that I couldn’t form an intelligent thought on the subject. I took the “If you can’t say something nice (helpful) don’t say anything at all” approach and kept my mouth shut. It has been eating at me ever since though and I’ve been very frustrated at my inability to say anything at all. Well, I’ve finally found my voice.
Enter John Elder Robison, noted author and expert on the subject of Asperger’s. Finally someone was able to put into words what has been bothering me ever since the media decided to “diagnose” the Sandy Hook shooter with Aspergers. Friends, I BEG of you, READ Asperger’s, Autism and Mass Murder. It says perfectly what anger has kept me from saying myself and does it far better than I ever could.
It speaks to the fact that the diagnosis process for Asperger’s and other disorders are based on human observation and how that can lead to misdiagnosis. Fact is, many disorders have criteria that cause them to look very similar and if the human observer does not see the subtle differences, misdiagnosis can, and does occur.
Why is it so important to me that you read this article? I have raised a beautiful, caring, gentle young man with Asperger’s. Misinformation at every junction of his life has cause so much unnecessary strife for him and for us as his parents. While, we started searching for answers about 9 years before the diagnosis Asperger’s would appear in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illness) road blocks were put up before him just because he was different and didn’t fit in. Basically he was a square peg that wouldn’t fit the round holes they wanted him to fit into. Doctors would tell us that there was nothing wrong, teachers would tell us he had ADHD and my gut would tell ME that there was something very different about my boy but we hadn’t yet hit on an answer. This lack of information hurt us in terms of getting him the help he needed. It hurt us in the way he was treated by teachers and students as well.
Misinformation the likes of which have been circulating since this tragedy hurts people like my son in ways you cannot imagine. Linking the murderer with Asperger’s creates a link peoples minds that Autistic people are dangerous and to be feared and sets us years back in terms of how we treat people who are different than the rest of us. This can unfairly keep them from getting jobs, and further ostracize them from society.
With the new year just hours away, I challenge each of you to start 2013 INFORMED. Educate yourself and others about Autism and Asperger’s . Start by reading and sharing Mr. Robison’s essay. SHARE this post.
We need to go forward into 2013 with a greater commitment to getting the answers to our questions for OURSELVES and stop taking the media’s word for things that they know little of nothing about. This is true for Autism, Asperger’s and ALL things that cause us to scratch our heads and wonder. We need to educate ourselves about those things we are curious about and question those things we do not understand. Then we need to research our questions. There’s a lot of credible information out there and it’s right at our fingertips if we just LOOK for it. There is no reason to take the word of others as gospel any longer. It’s time to find out for ourselves.
My heart goes out to the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary. It goes out to the family of the shooter who have to be left with so many questions that may never be answered. And it goes out to the parents of Autistic children everywhere who have been hurt, who are facing new issues, and road blocks because of the bad information that is out there.
My wish in 2013 is that the media would learn to wait until they have FACTS to report on before they open their mouths. To do anything less amounts to nothing more than gossip mongering. Until that happens, it’s up to the rest of us to question what we see and hear and make a difference by being educated.
OK, I’ve said my piece, now go read that article. It is really good information from someone who would know better than any of us. Thank you John Elder Robison. You’ve given us some solid knowledge to carry with us into the new year.