With countless blog posts, tweets, and facebook statuses already dedicated to the tragedy in Connecticut last week, I really wanted to keep my two-cents to myself. And then… the shooter’s brother went and said something about autism. The media and internet ran with it and for 48hours every parent of a child on the autism spectrum held their breath.
This autism-parenting gig has been one of my most intense Daddy-daughter dances. I have to daily put my feet on God’s and let him guide my steps. Like all my other Daddy-daughter dances, I often forget that I’m not in the lead and stumble all over my feet (and His).
This weekend I’ve been committed to letting Him lead. Tonight, we had a little dance party in our house. In the middle of watching Sofija learn how to led her Daddy lead, I felt peace about entering the discussion on what happened in Newtown.
There are a couple of things the world should know about autism.
1) Autism is not a mental illness. It is a developmental disorder. A neurodevelopmental disorder to be specific. Are some people on the autism spectrum mentally ill? Yes. So are some people who drive cars and shop at Wal-Mart. In fact, I’d venture to say that the percentage of mentally ill people shopping at Wal-Mart is much higher than the percentage of mentally ill people living with autism.
2) Autism DOES NOT lead to calculated violence. Individuals with autism will sometimes have out outbursts of anger and aggression. These outbursts are always situational and impulsive. When the situation passes, so does the aggressive behavior. Autism related aggression is reactive. The violence displayed in Newtown, CT was causal. They ARE NOT the same.
In case you’re wondering why I decided to add my two cents, I’m scared for my babies. Tomorrow I will send them out into a world that’s a little different from the one I sent them out into last week. Tomorrow they will encounter children and adults who’ve spent the last three days listening to the media and the world-wide web build a correlation between autism and what happened in Connecticut. Tomorrow I will wake early and spend time on my face before God claiming protection over them. While parents of neuro-typical kids are on their knees claiming protection from crazed shooters, I will be claiming protection from those who would put my babies into a box with a truly mentally ill young man.
When you see smiling pictures of the babies whose lives were taken on Friday next to a picture of the disturbed young man who took their lives, I ask that you not associate every autistic child you know with the killer.
Seth and Sofija have autism. Neither of them is capable of doing what Adam Lanza did.
And just like her Mama, Sofija is learning to let her Daddy take the lead. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbY3TOXD5ug