I still have no words to convey how much my heart aches for all those affected by yesterday’s shootings in Connecticut. Please know that people, even so far away, have you in their thoughts and prayers.
Speculation that the perpetrator of this crime has autism is rife. In response, and as requested by a number of autistic people I know, I am posting the Autistic Self Advocacy Networks’s statement. Please take the time to read it in its entirety.
Recent media reports have suggested that the perpetrator of this violence, Adam Lanza, may have been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a diagnosis on the autism spectrum, or with another psychiatric disability. In either event, it is imperative that as we mourn the victims of this horrific tragedy that commentators and the media avoid drawing inappropriate and unfounded links between autism or other disabilities and violence. Autistic Americans and individuals with other disabilities are no more likely to commit violent crime than non-disabled people.
I am also including here this piece by Paula C. Durbin-Westby, Mother with Asperger Syndrome Grieves Sandy Hook Elementary Victims.
I just want to grieve without having to worry about a different set of children– children who are growing up on the autism spectrum, or with atypical neurologies, with mental health conditions, who are not prone to violence by virtue of having these disabilities, but who could be negatively affected by assumptions that “all these people are dangerous” or even that “all these kids are going to grow up to be no good.”
Finally, I think it is worth reminding ourselves just how quick the media are to demonize autistic people. This piece by Kassiane S is a response to the very same speculation that abounded after the Aurora shootings. The fact that it has once again, become so horribly relevant is more than dismaying – it is terrifying.
We are not your scapegoat, and the trope of the dangerous neurodivergent is not only irresponsible, it is sloppy. Do some real research instead of lazily reaching into the bag of tropes every time someone does something terrible. Statistically speaking, we didn’t do it, and spreading the idea that we did has very real consequences that can mean life and death for us.