Jun 05

Random Thought

The issue is violence and autism. This topic is very important to me because it affects the way the world and society sees and treats my son and people like him.

There was a recent article in the Journal of Aggression and Violent Behavior, which said there is statistical data to support a link between violence and autism.  I do not approve of publishing studies such as these to the world, especially because in my opinion it is such a loose theory and based on statistics. Perhaps professionals in the mental health industry can put a study such as this into perspective. I believe when it comes to autism studies such as these there needs to be live observations and interviews, not raw numbers-based data. To diagnose a person on the autism spectrum a professional has to observe, go over reports that the patient and/or caregivers have filled out and more. It cannot be based on assumptions or putting circumstances together. Suffice it to say as soon as the information was out there it made me nervous and uncomfortable. For those who do not have a family member or close friend affected by autism, there will be judging or at least a thought planted in the back of someone’s mind that those with autism now or later could harm others.

To look at diary entries or hear about antisocial behaviors of serial killers and mass murders cannot be enough information to diagnose a person who is already dead with autism. On the other hand, if a person who has committed a crime was diagnosed somewhere on the spectrum of autism, it is not reasonable to say that that mental disability or issue was the reason the person committed the crime. Too many other variables exist. There are many mental health issues that share similarities but that does not mean they are the same. A person with antisocial behavior could have Asperger’s but there are many people out there who are schizophrenic or bipolar who share those same symptoms.

Then after the study was published there was the shooting at Isla Vista near University of California, Santa Barbara. Sadly, this came just a couple years after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. Both of these awful crimes were committed by young men that were diagnosed on the autism spectrum. The news of the diagnoses was rushed and reported by the media without context or understanding. Now the general population are hearing the report of people with Asperger’s and/or autism committing these atrocities and it is backed up by a scientifically based study?? These are the circumstances that make me so nervous and scared.

Perhaps this is a strange subject to write about but as a parent of a child with autism I cannot express properly in words the fear I have of how others might treat my son. It is largely a fear of others abusing and bullying my son and since he has few words to express himself I never know about how he is treated. This fear has now widened to others being scared of what my child and those like him. Out of fear also comes prejudice, hatred, cruelty and yes, sometimes violence.

Brody is one of the sweetest kids ever. He has had his moments of aggression as many children with autism (and without) can. But his disability has not defined who he will be now nor when he grows up. As his caregiver, advocate and support I will do all I can to help him remain kind-hearted, gentle and loving as he grows up. Puberty could change him. Being integrated into Jr. High and High School could also have an effect on him that will change him. But we don’t know if or when that will happen. Perhaps this is why those affected by autism talk so much about the importance of autism awareness. Ignorance can spread like wild-fire. Truth and facts get lost by the wayside. In the meantime, as a society we need to support others, not judge, offering help and showing compassion.


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