December 14 saw the second worst school shooting in American history. I don’t have to rehash the numbers or the horror that happened that day. The nation truly empathizes with those who lost wives, mothers and children in an event so horrible I cannot get my imagination around it. But there is something I do understand. I understand that even in the aftermath of what happened in Newtown, CT, those that share in a condition Adam Lanza may or may not have been dealing with should not be stigmatized.
To date I have seen no evidence that Mr. Lanza has been diagnosed by a licensed psychologist, or other qualified personnel, with high functioning autism (Asperger’s Syndrome). Everything reported in every media outlet has been conjecture or from a ‘family friend’ or ‘sources’. No credible person has come out saying with any certainty that Mr. Lanza has any form of Autism or any mental illness.
This can be the most damaging thing that could happen to the cause of Autism in not just the past decade, but ever. Those with high functioning autsim have an initial stigma around them because of their lack of eye contact and perceived lack of empathy. Often times, they are immediately brushed off as aloof, or unintelligent or both by their peers; and, there are times they are bullied because of it. Scholars and scientists in the Autistic community have studied people with Autism for years and are only now making strides in showing the community at large that those with Autism only lack the ability to pick up on social cues. Once they are able to understand the emotion being felt, they are able to connect fully, feel joy or remorse or whatever the situation calls for. So, for Mr. Lanza to suddenly become the proverbial poster child for high functioning autism is a disgrace and a disservice to the Autistic community.
Ninja Cat is one of those that gets to deal with this on a daily basis. He is a super smart 8 year old boy. He loves Minecraft, pizza and our trusty dog Bucky – not always in that order. He’s never been a big snuggler like Danger Boy and when he gets in trouble I have to tell him I am upset with him and exactly why. Is he given outbursts? Yes. Have I gotten a call from school because of them? Yes. Do I think this is going to make him a mass murderer? Not for a minute. He takes good care of his stuffed animals as if they were Bucky. There are times when he sits in my lap and lets me stroke his hair. Just today he helped a toddler to his feet that had fallen in the hallway at school where just two years before he would have just the tot stay on the floor because of his then dislike for ‘babies’. When he senses an injustice against his code, he will defend himself, his brother, or whomever to his utmost. Ninja Cat’s base personality is like 99% of the other Autistic children I have met – happy go lucky and will band together to support each other when things get tough.
Because of all this, it pains me when anyone in the media says Mr. Lanza ‘supposedly’ had or ‘may have had’ high functioning autism, to the point I have to bite back tears. Citing an unnamed source does not make it any easier on me, or those trying to see their way with this diagnosis. My hopefully faithful readers, I would love it if you help me spread the word, contact the mainstream media, or even your local media, and ask them to stop reporting speculation and stick to the facts. Isn’t that what news is supposed to do?