So yesterday I was on Facebook, whining about dealing with my insurance for 30 minutes. Then, I clicked over to yahoo. I immediately felt sick. I’d been joking around without knowing of the unthinkable atrocities that had taken place in Connecticut.
I have so many emotions, like everyone else. First, I didn’t believe it happened. Then, anger. LOTS of anger. Then, sheer grief and the desire to pick my kids up early from school.
Last night I realized that I had another very mixed emotion. This shooter. This troubled young man. HE was someones child. Someone’s brother. HE was loved by someone. Just because he did these terrible, vile things it doesn’t erase that fact.
Then, this morning, as I’m perusing the internet looking for more information in my already information overloaded brain, I see what I was dreading. The shooter was diagnosed with Asperger’s. Damn It. Then I see all sorts of comments I know I shouldn’t read at the bottom of a story. They anger me even when reading a “fun” article. But the cries of “lock the crazies up” have left me feeling even more ill. One person took the leap to say that because someone with ASD lacks empathy it makes them MORE prone to violence.
Can someone with ASD commit such crimes? Sure. The Autism community isn’t immune to atrocities. But let me be clear. People with Autism DO have empathy. It may not present in the way you want it to, but it IS there. I had an afternoon snack with one of my dearest friends yesterday. Her child also has Asperger’s. Guess what he did? He gave his sister is jacket because she was cold. They may not react the way you want them to at news of someone’s passing. But they are processing in a way that is so much more complex than the neurotypical. So, please, don’t blame Autism. Autism isn’t responsible for this madness. Autistic people aren’t “crazies” who need to be locked up.
I know we feel like we need a “Why.” There isn’t always an answer. My choice today is to follow the advice of Fred Rogers:
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” — Mister Rogers