I genuinely intended not to touch the Sandy Hook massacre with a barge pole; there are bloggers and reporters who are far more professional in their writing on such matters than I. What happened is mind-bendingly, inconceivably tragic and horrible; I was going to say nothing more than that on the subject, other than sparing many thoughts for the victims and their families.
However, sensationalism, accusations and mud-slinging always follow these events. Something was bound to yank my chain eventually – I even knew what misguided rumours were going to start flying before the first stone was cast.
Adam Lanza was obviously a deeply troubled young man.
By all accounts, Adam Lanza was a loner who nobody ever really knew.
Nobody really noticed that Adam Lanza existed – not until he committed this atrocity.
All of a sudden rumours are rife that Adam Lanza was on the autistic spectrum – because every autistic individual is a loner, a nerd, a geek and/or completely devoid of emotion and as crazy as a bat in a hen house, right? Because you’re suddenly a medical expert who can put a label on somebody you never even spoke to, right?
Wrong. In casting these aspersions you are making Lanza into some kind of an anti-hero, and putting a terrible slur on the autistic community at large – most of whom do not have a bad bone in their bodies.
Those of us on the spectrum already have enough trouble with stigma. According to
historical folklore “medical research” we’re aloof; we don’t care about others because – apparently – we lack empathy; we’re temperamental; we’re stuck in our own little world; we’re “just weird”; nobody can understand us because we don’t wish to be understood.
That is not even half of what we have to contend with. Admittedly, some or even all of the above can be true for many autistic individuals, but others (like myself) are open and gregarious by nature, and very likeable (if a little nerdy/geeky) if you give us a chance and don’t dismiss us as a lost cause. You met one autistic person who was slightly abrasive and/or socially awkward; that doesn’t mean that we all are.
I am autistic; I am not, however, the next Rose West or Myra Hindley. I am having a very difficult time here, trying to equate being a suicidal mass murderer with being autistic. I know a lot of autistic people – including my son – and none of them would ever intentionally cause harm to a living being.
In blogging about this I am stepping way out of my comfort zone and I accept that I have made myself open to attack in airing my feelings. Please be kind; I am not casting aspersions in general – I’m just upset about the people who are hopping onto the autism bandwagon.
Adam Lanza may or may not have been autistic. We will most likely never know the truth in that regard. However, we do know that he was troubled, angry and – ultimately – crazy. What Lanza did had nothing to do with being on the spectrum or not.
My heartfelt blessings to the beautiful children and brave teachers who lost their lives in this immense tragedy, and to their families.