ASAN STATEMENT ON MEDIA COVERAGE OF CT TRAGEDY

Here’s The Autistic Self Advocacy Network’s statement on the tragedy in CT.  It says everything necessary to dispel the ignorance of linking disabled individuals with violent acts.

 

http://autisticadvocacy.org/2012/12/asan-statement-on-media-reports-regarding-newton-ct-shooting/

 

 

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THOUGHTS ON TRAGEDY

After a day of gut-wrenching news coverage, I went to bed only to be jerked awake several times with nightmares.  Most of them involved me not being able to find my boys in various situations.  I woke from them screaming, heart racing, and sweating, with a soul-searing panic that I never want to feel again.  I cannot ever imagine what intense agony and ruin these parents and families feel.  It’s unfathomable and so unbelievably wrong.

After a long consideration on whether or not I should keep what happened from my kids (ages 7 and 10), my little guy heard a snippet of news coverage on the car radio before I could switch the channel.  “Mom, what happened in Connecticut?”  Ugh.  How do you explain this to a precocious child who worries WAY too much anyway?  I ended up with an explanation that gave him simple facts, trying to soften the anxiety with the idea that this is something that is a freak occurrence and it will not happen to him.  Then came the million and one questions.  Why?  What was wrong with the boy?  How could he shoot kids?  How did he get in the school?  Will this happen at my school?  Will someone shoot me?

What a sad world that we live in when your child needs to ask these questions.

I limited any TV/news coverage but we still all shed tears and talked about it most of the night.

Now, we are left panicking about 3 large and looming concerns that have all of us “up in arms” so to speak:   Gun control, managing mental illness, and security for our schools.

To sum up my thoughts, and I am just one person, but anyway…

Guns:  I never want a weapon in my home that can kill dozens of people in the blink of an eye with the push of one finger.  I wish I had specific solutions on how to balance the right to protect oneself  with the right to have an environment that is safe from the danger of these types of weapons.  I wish with all of my heart that we could all work together to come to a reasonable conclusion to keep our children safe.  From what I am reading today, it seems unlikely, and it’s sad, very sad.

Managing mental illness:  I wish the media would stop trying to slap certain diagnoses of mental illness/neurological conditions on persons who commit horrific crimes. Of course these people are sick.  Nobody who is mentally healthy would do anything like that.  It is, however, hurtful and irresponsible to link a specific diagnosis, like schizophrenia, autism, Asperger’s, etc., to a criminal without knowing for a fact what that person was diagnosed with and without understanding the nature of these illnesses and reporting about that.  It does a great disservice to the many persons who suffer immensely with these conditions and it’s completely unfair to malign a whole group of individuals by linking their diagnosis to a sick person who has planned a mass murder.

I do not know what the shooter suffered from, but many outlets are stating that he was autistic or had Asperger’s.  The same thing happened with the CO murderer.  To throw out these terms and link horrific crimes to people who they label as “somewhere on the autism spectrum” and then not follow it up with the fact that people with autism have no more likelihood of committing a violent crime like this as you or I or anyone else.  I have also been hearing that “people with autism lack empathy” and this could not be further from the truth.  Say that to me when you see my child cry because he feels “devastated that the kids got hurt and had to go to Heaven.”  Most people on the spectrum have trouble expressing their feelings of empathy but this doesn’t mean that they don’t FEEL empathy.  The challenge comes with showing their feelings in a way that others understand.  And again, individuals with autism have no higher incidence of exhibiting planned violent behavior like this.  I am very worried for my child when our society ignorantly links his neurological condition with insane mass murder.

Obviously, this person didn’t get the proper care that he needed, and I have no instant solutions for this issue either, but something has to give when it comes to figuring out why so many young men are violently ill and not getting the proper treatment before they resort to something unimaginable.

Safety in schools:  The other day, I had to run to the middle school to pick up a paper.  It was like Fort Knox getting in there.  I had to ring a buzzer and explain my situation, stop at a kiosk and scan my license, type in personal information, and take a picture of myself for a printed name badge, and then I had to sign out with the machine on my way out.  I laughed so hard at this and joked that they might as well do a full-body scan.  Little did I know that today I would be grateful for that sign-in process and even wish for more intense processes when it comes to entering our children’s schools.  I sincerely hope that we will take safety for our schools much more seriously.  I am all for one entrance with metal detectors and an officer on duty at all times.  It sounds extreme but I will happily get frisked and not give a second thought to “my rights” when it comes to safety for my children.  We have to make this happen.  No child or parent should fear a school day.

My thoughts and my heart are with those in CT.  I am so, so sorry for their loss and pain.   Click below for ways to help.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/14/connecticut-elementary-school-shooting-how-to-help_n_2302760.html

If you need a good cry today…

Ronan McElligott Memorial Playground

Sorry, we have the stomach bug in our house right now, and this really made me count my blessings.  Plus, his name is Ronan and he looks exactly like my Ronan when he was an infant!  Waaahhhhh!