Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Autism and Aurora

Thank you blog Autism Policy and Politics, for alerting me to this.

I never thought I would be writing about the events in Aurora, CO.  If anything, if I had a genie, I would make a wish that the alleged shooter be made invisible, and that the media would never write another word about him.

So why am I writing about "he who caused Aurora" today and not about Bil?

It would seem that a morning TV talk show person made a statement.speculating about the mental condition of this shooter.  He said:

"As soon as I hear about this shooting, I knew who it was. I knew it was a young, white male, probably from an affluent neighborhood, disconnected from society -- it happens time and time again. Most of it has to do with mental health; you have these people that are somewhere, I believe, on the autism scale" and "I don't know if that's the case here, but it happens more often than not. People that can walk around in society, they can function on college campuses -- they can even excel on college campuses -- but are socially disconnected."

Well, some of this is true.

But diagnosing someone with autism, or Aspergers, not as a mental health professional but as a journalist?  What is his proof?  What is gained by this?

I know sometimes I play at "does this person have autism?" based on my knowledge of Bil, and other young people with autism. But never would I make my speculation public.  And, on top of this, autism is a spectrum disorder.  It manifests in so many different ways.

I know a young man with Aspergers who will smile at you, and even crack jokes.

I don't feel Bil could intentionally be violent.  (this is not to say a person with autism might react to a stressful situation, especially if they were being bombarded by sensory stimuli- but it is situation specific, and not a personal lashing out.)  And Bil craves company, but in his own way, and on his own terms.

This journalist, who has a child with Aspergers, has just tarred the name of Aspergers.

And one more thought - if it turns out that the allleged shooter has Aspergers - it does not mean all mentally ill people have autism.

If he doesn't retract this, we are back to the era where people with autism were mentally ill - and confined to institutions.

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