As any parent has been feeling over the last few days, I cannot simply imagine sending my children to school and not have them return. My heart breaks for the families of those lost.
I can't recall if it was on Sunday that my sadness deepen after reading Twitter and watching CNN when the words "autism" and "Asperger's" were mentioned. I didn't even hear the context but instantly just shook my head and said "No, oh no" when I heard those words. Since my days in university, 18 years ago, I have worked with both children and adults with the diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and my response to the latest news regarding what happened in Newton was a silent plea to the media to "please, please don't connect this horrible event to ASD".
Autism is a spectrum disorder that currently covers five disorders under the Autism Spectrum Disorders umbrella:
- Autistic Disorder
- Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (very rare)
- Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified
- Rett's Syndrome (also rare, only effecting girls)
- Asperger's Syndrome
It is the last of these that has been connected to the incidents connected with Newton. From Wikipedia,
Asperger syndrome (AS), also known as Asperger's syndrome or Asperger disorder, is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction, alongside restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. It differs from other autism spectrum disorders by its relative preservation of linguistic and cognitive development.
Asperger's has no connection to such aggressive violence, so please, as sensational as it may be, don't connect it, and individuals who has Asperger's, to any search for why this terrible event happened. Individuals with Asperger's have a hard enough time being understood and at the same time, we may never understand why the tragic events in the small town of Newton took place. Please don't connect the two when searching for your "why". Children with ASD and their families are vulnerable to conjectures such as these in the media and making this connection in order to try to work out "why" is just too harmful.