It’s scary to watch how quickly people will feel the need to be defensive.
What do I mean? Well after the tragedy in Santa Barbara over the weekend one of the many autism pages I follow posted something along the lines of: Right, beware of backlash folks, it’s been confirmed the shooter had Aspergers.
I don’t come across many people unsympathetic to ASD and it’s issues, but obviously this person has had issues. Do people really tar our children with the same brush? That just cos one kid one the spectrum goes on a shooting rampage every kid will?
I will not condone what that kid did. Never. From what I’ve read of his ‘manifesto’, his belief in that he was owed adoration and love was scary. A real sense of entitlement. But what did tug at my heart was the bullying and insensitivity showed him by his peers as he grew up. Maybe, just maybe, if his peers had been a little less quick to judge, less quick to call him weird, things may not have got this far. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think they are to blame for his actions. But maybe their attitudes went some way towards his ultimate actions.
As a mother of a child with ASD it is heartbreaking to see them acting ‘different’ to the other children. To see the invitations dry up, both individually and as a family. To see people whispering about your child, or staring. To know that as she gets older it is only going to get worse. That while she’s oblivious to it now, she won’t be for long.
How can we expect these children to grow up into responsible adults when we exclude them from society from an early age? How can we expect them to grow up without bitterness and resentment when they are shunned at every turn? I know a bit what it’s like to be termed the ‘weird’ kid. To get the sympathy invites. To know that everyone who you consider your ‘friend’ are out partying and you are the only one not included. To hear them laughing about how much fun they had and who did what with whom, right in front of your face on Monday morning. No, I didn’t grow up to be a murderer and I like to think that I am now reasonably balanced but it still hurts. And to know that that is what my daughter will face is heartbreaking.
So to those of you with NT kids, make a difference. Invite the ‘freak’ to your kids parties. Invite the struggling single mother with the ‘weird’ child round to your house. Teach your kids to lose those terms and see our children as a part of society that isn’t going away but only getting bigger, that needs acceptance and friendship. Teach your kids to be kind to everyone, to tolerate the child who is spinning in circles in the corner, or the little girl sticking her fingers up her nose and then in her mouth. Teach them that just because one kid with Aspergers did something horrific, it doesn’t mean every kid on the spectrum will. Don’t make us autism parents feel the need to be defensive every time something like this hits the news. And remember that by teaching your children kindness to those who are different, you may very well be saving a life.
This post was suggested by a prompt: ‘Break the Silence‘, by The Daily Post blog.