My brain is swirling. Of course, like everyone, the feeling of shock still rules my head and the hollowness pervades my heart as I try to come to understand it. I know only those twenty six families can truly understand the depth of the this staggering loss but I also believe everyone of us lost a piece of our hearts that Friday morning. I know I did and I have a feeling it’s a piece that never comes back.
In all of this, I am not angry but what I am is confused and I have also become a mom on alert. Alert and concerned that something as innocent as autism could become a casualty in all of this. Just as we are recently gaining positive awareness in order to help innocent kiddos who are in need, an irresponsible reporter goes off half cocked supported within a national forum and breathes its fragile name amidst the blackness that rose up in Newtown, Connecticut.
Before this happened, back when autism first entered our life, I thought autism was immense, ginormous, overwhelming and even mythic in some moments. Mythic because I could not believe it was happening to my boy. I thought autism was big because it was so much more giant than I could understand or wrap my head around and it felt as though it was even bigger than me and my boy and the doctor combined.
On Saturday that changed.
I’d like to say it changed on Friday but, for me, nothing sank in until Saturday and Saturday was when my jaw fell open wide. That was the day I heard a reporter put the autism wrapper around the Sandy-Hook-nothing and cloak him in autism. I won’t write his name or glorify him here because he does not deserve that so I will simply call him the Sandy-Hook-nothing. Noted but not notable because if notoriety was what he searched for, he will not receive that from me. I know his name but I won’t write it.
I was floored when autism was thrown at the S-H-n as though someone thought they could somehow offer up a quick excuse, an explanation for his despicable act. And then it multiplied when others started to bat around the rumor as they passed along the same irresponsible gossip as truth. Incidentally, shame on you if you were one of them. Let me be blunt and tell you I am not okay with that. Not only was it wildly irresponsible but it also goes to show how much you are misinformed and also how much you don’t understand about autism. C-l-e-a-r-l-y….what happened in Connecticut is too big to be tidied up with a one word explanation. And, that’s when it happened. Autism suddenly began to feel small for the very first time. The autism that once felt big and overwhelming began to pale when it stood up beside the S-H-n.
Folks, let me assure you if you don’t know this already, this is NOT what autism looks like. Whatever the Sandy-Hook-nothing was, whatever drove him to such depths of rage and lack of empathy, whatever made him kill with such venom and recklessness…well…I promise you, it was a whole lot more than autism. And, let me get ahead on this one too and say it’s not any kind of Asperger’s either.
What went on in the elementary school is not what autism or Asperger’s look like. It’s just not.
I have been around all those “A” terms for the last decade, plus a few odd years thrown in from my teen years when I worked in residential treatment facilities with kiddos of varying disabilities,…long before autism ever entered my own home. Long before I had any inkling that autism and I would become quite involved with one another. My boy is all of those “A” words. He is not only autistic but he is also Asperger’s and there is not a hint of violence in his essence or his actions. He is loving and kind and he has empathy beyond his years. His friends are very much the same. Kind, sweet, loving. As early as his kindergarten years(he is thirteen now) his kindness began to roll through our village. He and I would wait each day for his sister at the bus stop. While we were waiting for his sister, if he heard a baby fussing, he would attend to the babies who were crying. The mothers were often busy chatting and did not notice so my boy would step in. My boy would locate lost pacifiers and blankets and bottles and notify mothers that though their baby had been sad, he fixed them and made them smile. Even today, at 13, if I so much as sneeze he comes to check and make sure I am okay. Sure, he is autistic, he is Asperger’s, and it is nothing related to what you saw unfold in Connecticut.
Autism, as big as I once thought it was, is much too small to explain the enormous darkness of the S-H-n. Too, too small. No amount of autism, no matter where on the spectrum you look, can begin to explain the Sandy Hook nothing. Whatever that boy was, if there was a disorder involved, I promise you his landscape was broader than autism could ever fill.
Do you really kid yourself into believing that something like autism could be used to define and explain something as hideous as the Sandy-Hook-nothing? Seriously that is NONSENSE. And, just that quickly, I am faced with the sudden smallness of autism. Autism is too small to explain away the Sandy-Hook-nothing.
The violent rampage you seek to explain by rushing to label it will not be explained so easily . Slapping any of the autism spectrum terms on to it is not enough to explain what that boy did. Autism spectrum disorders are too small for that.
The Sandy-Hook-nothing goes deeper and much darker than autism could ever begin to explain. I wish it was that easy. That a simple diagnosis could cover something so immensely unfathomable as what befell such a lovely elementary school who had taken such measures to protect those little ones but autism is not big enough for that. It might make a country rest easier if they could name it and file it away but that’s not going to happen this time.
Autism is too small.