Tuesday, December 18, 2012
By now, we are all tired of hearing about Newtown, Conn.
I am still shocked and grieved when I read details, and more details seem to be coming every day.
But there is one detail, one word that keeps the nightmare fresh for me.
The word is Asperger's.
It, a disorder on the autism spectrum, is what news outlets are saying the Newtown shooter, Adam Lanza, had.
My son has it.
I didn’t know until my son was grown that my ex-husband’s family had several autistic individuals. My son was a little slow reaching some developmental milestones compared to his older sister, but his pediatrician and my family and the baby books said boys were a little slower than girls on these things.
My son is undeniably bright, but was way, way behind in language development.
Making friends was not his strong suit. He seemed happy with his books and computer games, so I left him alone.
OK, give me a scarlet “M.”
School, especially middle school was hell for him. He was the “pink monkey in the barrel of brown monkeys” and paid for it with slights, teasing and outright violence. The other kids knew that if he retaliated, HE would be the one tossed out of school and turned over to the police.
It was gut-wrenching for me, his mother, and it was not a good time for my son. Imagine rocks falling out of the sky at you, and you have no idea why they are coming.
My son does have a temper, but as Amy S.F. Lutz writes in Slate, most of what sets someone with autism off is internal conflicts. The results are scary, and yes, someone can get hurt. But, my son and the vast majority of Aspies (the name Asperger’s people like to call themselves) are not a threat.
So please, as the mother of one of the world’s many pink monkeys, don’t demonize.
And don’t be afraid.