Dec 21, 2012
The recent events at Sandhook have opened my eyes to the gross misunderstanding our nation has about autism and what needs to be done about. During terrible times like this we naturally look for someone or something to blame. It is so easy to place blame on that which we do not understand. For many people autistic persons are very scary. It seems only logical that we blame Adam's cruel actions on his developmental disability. And yet, us special parents are absolutely horrified that anyone would even insinuate this connection publicly. The autism community has worked so hard to fight this prejudice. Autism does not cause violence. If anything, autistic people are more likely to be bullied and ridiculed by average people. When the news outlets say stuff like this it takes away attention from the abuse that happens to people with autism.
Do I believe that Adam was raised in a way that set him up for success? No, it doesn't look like it. I don't believe we can truly blame anyone for this act, except Adam, but I do not think that he was in a good situation. It is a great indication that schools and parents need more help and education on how to raise and teach a developmentally disabled child. They are not beyond our reach, they are just lost. Conventional methods don't work so we must think outside of the box when we interact with someone who is different.
It is incredibly amazing how my daughter learns. I spend a lot of time talking to someone who seems like they aren't communicating back to me. I tell her stories and explain things to her and she just stares off into the distance or runs away to investigate something. Other times she focuses in on one thing I said or pointed out to her and is absolutely fascinated by it. She doesn't express how much she appreciates children her own age very well, but I know that she loves to have friends. It might be easier as an autistic person to stay isolated, but it is very important to keep pushing someone out of their shell. Even if it doesn't look like it is doing much. Clearly when we don't take care of these needs the possibility of something terrible happening increases. Often people with developmental disabilities end up on the street..or worse. Nothing is set in stone though. So there is no way to know 100% for sure what type of personality Adam would have had given a different type of upbringing. Just remember in the aftermath of this terrible situation that when you have met one child with autism, you have met ONE child with autism. If you see a parent struggling reach out to help. Don't sit and judge. It's not easy and we need all the resources we can get. I also want to say that it is very hard for me to think about the precious babies that were taken away so young. My own daughter is in kindergarten and my life would be so sad without her.