Monday, December 17, 2012

They Got It Wrong

Information From a Wonderful Friend and Autism Consultant….
I have spoken with many of you in the past few days about the awful tragedy in Connecticut.  This is a terrible heartache for the families, the community, and everyone, everywhere. 
The news media rushed to give information to help bring some order to the nightmare.  Often their information was incorrect.  The gunman's name was given inaccurately.  Was his mother a teacher, school volunteer, substitute?  Actually, it turns out she is not any of those things. 
The media used the label Asperger's Syndrome and spoke of mental illness and personality disorders.  Here again, they got it wrong.  Asperger's syndrome is a developmental difference.  Autism is a developmental disability.  ASD is not a personality disorder, nor mental illnesses.  They got it wrong.
People with autism spectrum disorders are not more likely to plan and implement such a horrific event than any other person.  The killer may be diagnosed with ASD, but that is as meaningful as saying he has brown hair, or wears a size 10 shoe.  It means nothing, if this is accurate information it is no more than a coincidence. 
Be confident and strong in these facts and calmly correct the misperceptions of other people, calmly and with dignity.  The best way we get through this nightmare is by doing precisely as you have been doing. 
For the past two weeks you have been writing to the shut-ins during this holiday season through the Angel Card Program.   You have wrapped gifts for the older adults, crafted holiday decorations for their rooms, and are visiting the senior assisted living facilities to share some holiday joy and companionship. 
This is exactly what we should be doing.  Standing together, sharing our time and talents to make the world a bit better for other people.