In the news today, is the story of a twenty-one year old male from Armstrong County, Pennsylvania who the media reports had a radical Islamist online persona and videos suggesting paramilitary training for terrorist activities. During his arrest last week he is alleged to have bitten two FBI agents and reached for a concealed weapon. The reason I am posting this is the media also reports that his parents are saying he has Asperger’s and offering this as a defense. It is unclear if this is just a defense for the biting or for everything.
We have a friend who is a weapons trainer for the military who let my son shoot this gun once, but my son normally only shoots air rifles. My son is not the one with the diagnosis, but I don’t know why anyone outside of the military would need the type of weapons involved in this case.
Below is the news article:
Here we go again placing the blame on Asperger’s! I don’t know if anyone remembers, but when the Virginia Tech shooting happened the first response from his family came from an Aunt in Korea who said he had been diagnosed with autism as young boy. It upsets me that the news media jumps on this and runs with it, but they at least are somewhat reasonable in the article listed above. It is the comments that follow that are really the concern and especially the fact that everything gets so twisted the more the story is told.
I personally think whatever is going on with this young man, it is more than Asperger’s. After the Virginia Tech shootings, we learned that he was a victim of horrific bullying in high school. Now I don’t know that even that caused him to become a shooter and I don’t know anything about the young man in today’s story other than what is in this article.
However, I do know that with understanding and support children can overcome bullying. I also know that Asperger’s does not make someone a terrorist or a shooter. What our children need is what every child needs an environment of tolerance, acceptance, understanding and support to manage challenges that sensory sensitivity and literal thinking can cause. They certainly do not need to be lumped into a group that implies they have no morals or ability to make their own rational decisions anymore than they need to be told that their Asperger’s is not relevant or it is just a made up diagnosis by over-reactive parents.
My child knows that Asperger’s is not a “get-out-of-jail-free” card and from reading other blogs, I know most parents of those on the spectrum agree with me. I want the media to stop blaming autism spectrum every time the diagnosis comes up in these cases. I want our society to change to a climate of helping those on the autism spectrum and anyone else who faces challenges. I want bullying to stop, even bullying by the news media.
Please try to find out exactly why this young man decided violence was the answer to his problems, but don’t blame his diagnosis of Asperger’s unless you have facts to support this. There are many people on the autism spectrum who have endured enough abuse in their lives without you feeding into it. Many have grown into amazing adults against all odds. Just look at Temple Grandin or better yet take the time to read some of the blogs listed under Special Peeps. There you will find some accomplished people who happen to also have a diagnosis that places them on the spectrum. You will also find parents who are working hard to raise responsible and caring children who have a diagnosis that places them on the spectrum.
And parents, if you have a troubled child with any diagnosis don’t blame the diagnosis. Get help for your child and be there to help them through whatever is causing them pain instead of blaming them. It is your job to turn them into the best adults they can be, so you don’t get a “get-out-of-jail-free” card either.