In the wake of the horrific events in Connecticut, so many of us are wondering how such a thing could happen. News media have begun to speculate about the involvement of mental illness -- how could anyone NOT, with what has happened -- and there have been mentions of the possible connection of Aspergers and/or Autism.
For those of us who have family members on the spectrum in our lives, this is frightening on a totally different level. We know it's natural to want to find a simple explanation, or something to blame. But understanding what autism spectrum disorders are, and what they are NOT, is important, in this situation, and for all of the people who live with it.
Jill, a mom of a child on the spectrum and fellow blogger, expressed it beautifully and has given permission for her words to be shared. Her original post is here: http://yeahgoodtimes.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-connecticut-tragedy-and-autism.html Here is what she said:
There has been much discussion online and in the news about the
connection between the Connecticut school shooting and the fact that the
shooter may have been diagnosed with autism. As our families and our
community discusses this issue and tries to find a reason for this
heartbreaking tragedy, I feel that it is very important to remember the
following: There is no connection between planned, violent behavior and an autism spectrum diagnosis of any kind.
Autism is not a mental illness; it is a developmental disability. Many
autistic people may have emotional regulation problems, which are
impulsive expressions of frustration and anger, that are immediate and
disorganized. They may lash out with threatening statements or
behaviors, but these behaviors are impulsive reactions, they are not
deliberate or organized plans. Once the situation has been diffused, the
behaviors will stop. What happened in Connecticut required methodical
planning of a deliberate and tremendously violent act; this is not
typical behavior of an autistic person.
Right now we are all struggling to find a reason why this kind of
atrocity would happen, and we can speculate about the mental state of
the shooter; about gun control laws; about the current state of our
country’s mental health system, or about whatever else that might help
us make some sense out of this. Please know, and please tell your
children, that even if the shooter was autistic, autism is not the explanation for this tragedy.
If anybody has any questions about autism, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Thank you very much for your time,