Sunday, December 16, 2012

Newtown Reflections - Blogging Advent Calendar Day 15




Yesterday's post today. Because well...


I have to be honest. It is the day after the Newtown, CT tragedy and I am still at a loss. I just don’t feel like writing about my life. Not when so many other lives are being changed in unimaginable ways.

One thing I can write about is how the media is handling the shooter’s possible Asperger’s diagnosis. As I watched the coverage on CNN, a shiver went up my spine the moment I heard autism referenced. Within moments I started getting word online that other “infotainment” networks were really focusing on the autism angle.

Autism doesn’t make a person a mass murderer any more than having blue eyes makes you a homicidal maniac.

So instead of writing anything, and since there are people far more eloquent and knowledgeable than I, I thought I would share some statements as well as some posts from friends…

The Statements:

Our hearts go out to the families and town of Newtown, Conn. in the wake of this heartbreaking event. Several media outlets are reporting that the shooter might have had an autism spectrum disorder. Some have also inaccurately reported that there is a linkage between autism and planned violence. We ask that blame not be placed on people with disabilities or disorders in the midst of these types of tragedies and that everyone keep the families of Newtown in their prayers.
“Our hearts go out to the victims of today’s shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and their families. Recent media reports have suggested that the perpetrator of this violence, Adam Lanza, may have been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a diagnosis on the autism spectrum, or with another psychiatric disability. In either event, it is imperative that as we mourn the victims of this horrific tragedy that commentators and the media avoid drawing inappropriate and unfounded links between autism or other disabilities and violence. Autistic Americans and individuals with other disabilities are no more likely to commit violent crime than non-disabled people. In fact, people with disabilities of all kinds, including autism, are vastly more likely to be the victims of violent crime than the perpetrators. Should the shooter in today’s shooting prove to in fact be diagnosed on the autism spectrum or with another disability, the millions of Americans with disabilities should be no more implicated in his actions than the non-disabled population is responsible for those of non-disabled shooters.
“Our hearts go out to the victims of today’s shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and their families. Recent media reports have suggested that the perpetrator of this violence, Adam Lanza, may have been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a diagnosis on the autism spectrum, or with another psychiatric disability. In either event, it is imperative that as we mourn the victims of this horrific tragedy that commentators and the media avoid drawing inappropriate and unfounded links between autism or other disabilities and violence. Autistic Americans and individuals with other disabilities are no more likely to commit violent crime than non-disabled people. In fact, people with disabilities of all kinds, including autism, are vastly more likely to be the victims of violent crime than the perpetrators. Should the shooter in today’s shooting prove to in fact be diagnosed on the autism spectrum or with another disability, the millions of Americans with disabilities should be no more implicated in his actions than the non-disabled population is responsible for those of non-disabled shooters.



Today’s violence was the act of an individual. We urge media, government and community leaders to speak out against any effort to spuriously link the Autistic or broader disability community with violent crime. Autistic Americans and other groups of people with disabilities persist in facing discrimination and segregation in school, the workplace and the general community. In this terrible time, our society should not further stigmatize our community. As our great nation has so many times in the past, let us come together to both mourn those killed by acts of heinous murder and defend all parts of our country from the scourge of stigma and prejudice.”




We here at GRASP (and I as the father of two school-age boys), cannot be more saddened and devastated by the news of the shootings in Newtown, CT. Our thoughts, wishes, prayers, and heaviest hearts go out to the victims and their families.

While it has not been confirmed, two major news outlets are now speculating that the shooter, Adam Lanza, had been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. Much remains to be seen to provide the full picture of who this man was, but AS may indeed have been a part of his makeup.

We urge everyone to remember what GRASP has stated since our beginning: That having Asperger’s or the autism spectrum in your life—as an individual, a parent...etc.—does not carry any bearing with whether or not you will become (for lack of a better term) "a good person" in this life. While the majority of statistics prove that we are infinitely more prone to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators of violence, we are not immune from becoming people capable of making terrible, horrible choices. No one is.

So we ask that everyone please steer away from getting too caught up in the spectrum angle. Let us focus instead on mourning; lamenting through grief that such a terrible and tragic event befell us all on this awful, awful day. Let us focus on the families impacted, and care for them, so that someday far off maybe we can explain—though never justify—what happened today. Perhaps then we will finally force those responsible for our care to pass legislations that could have helped prevent this tragedy, or revoke the legislations that may have assisted it.


Now for a couple of posts:


I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza’s mother. I am Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harris’s mother. I am Jason Holmes’s mother. I am Jared Loughner’s mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho’s mother. And these boys—and their mothers—need help. In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.


Every time that we let this go, every time that those with a platform to make a change stand by in silence, fear grows.


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