Yesterday, a 20 year old man walked into an elementary school and killed 20 children and 6 adults. The story is heartrending and tragic beyond discription. My heart aches for the parents and families of those who died.
I didn’t follow the news yesterday. I knew peripherally that something had happened involving a shooter at a school, but I was busy. I spent a part of my morning on the phone with Daniel’s ESE teacher. Daniel had a meltdown at school. The meltdown involved my son’s teacher trying to pick up his binder. My son tried to prevent her and a brief tug-o-war ensued. It ended with my son putting his hand up in his teacher’s face when she would not let go. He was sent to the office and issued detention.
It is fairly evident at this point in time that Daniel’s ESE teacher is not well prepared to teach Daniel. She does not know how to interact with Daniel. She often gets into arguments with him that quickly escalate. She doesn’t seem to have the experience to recognize the impending meltdown and divert the direction in order to allow Daniel a way to calm down. She also seems at a loss to know how to work with Daniel in a way that is effective. Daniel is currently pressed to the limit all the time and the situation has become progressively more intense.
When I read the news reports this morning my heart ached. At the same time, deep in my stomach I began to feel uneasy. Then I read that it has been reported that the shooter may have had Asperger’s Syndrome. My heart sank further.I immediately felt concern for my son and for all those on the spectrum.
We have not felt the fall out from the shooting yesterday, but I expect there will be fallout for every family on the spectrum. I expect that the fallout will be felt most intensely by those on the spectrum who are high-functioning. The blessing of being high-functioning is paired with the struggle of the societal expectation that the high-functioning individual will be typical and respond to life typically.
We, as the family of a person on the spectrum, are faced with a difficult situation. There is a lack of training and awareness regarding meltdowns and their triggers. There is fear and out of fear, there is prejudice. We are working with our son to learn to deal with a world that doesn’t make any sense to him. We need a world that is also learning to make sense of our son. We need people to be educated about high-function autistics/Aspies.
I feel sick at heart today.
UPDATE: I think this is a great article to rebut the idea that Asperger’s in any way makes a person more prone to violence: Autism Key