There are no words for what happened. As my family and friends know, I am passionate about autism/ASD for those affected by it and their families. I have lived in that world and I not only know it well but I respect it. IF the man who committed this unspeakable crime of slaughter in Newtown, CT on December 14, 2012 was on the autism spectrum, it is not the autism that is to blame. This was the act of one man deeply troubled with nobody to listen – not even himself – or he wouldn’t have done it. No gun control laws could have stopped him (I refuse to mention his name).
I have read and listened, cried and mourned, just like you in the last three days. From what I have discerned, I do believe that this murderer was diagnosed and found to be on the autism spectrum. Although there is no evidence to link autism and violent behavior it can be manifested through the environment or lack of proper intervention as well as the fact that autism can co-exist with any other disorder.
As the mother of a grown son on the autism spectrum and as a speech-language pathologist who has dedicated her entire professional career to ASD, my passion is to help, share, and make life easier for these people and their families. I know what it takes.
In my Sunday newspaper, December 16, 2012, in a profile and interviews about this young killer I read the following statements:
Former honor student
Smart but odd and remote
Toted a briefcase
Always wore shirt buttoned all the way up
Very shy and didn’t make an effort to interact with anybody in his 10th grade
A very scared young boy who was very nervous around people
He was a loner
If that boy would’ve burned himself, he would not have known it or felt it physically
He was believed to have suffered from a personality disorder
He had been diagnosed with Asperger’s
A skinny, withdrawn, socially awkward 20 year-old who excelled in academics but apparently not in forming deep friendships
Interested in gaming and computers though seemingly without a digital footprint on social networks
It is not know whether he had a job
He’d say hello and goodbye, and that was about it
As a mother and as a professional ~ here is what I glean
(I can now call him by name because he was a person) Adam Lanza was a “Cipher in the Snow.” He was a nobody. His brother hadn’t spoken to him in over two years as reported. He mother and father divorced. He related only to the inanimate, violent, criminal images he found on his compute. His mother stoked the violent rage in him with her arsenal of legalized weapons telling him they were “okay.” His mental and developmental disorder or disorders were not addressed adequately by his educational system that let him down because he did not qualify since he met the educational standards of the system. The high anxiety of being on the autism spectrum and Adam’s high intellectual ability let him know on a daily basis that he was powerless in a society that values power. And he could not discern fantasy from reality.
I wonder . . .
if Adam had ever been in speech/language therapy for social and pragmatic language
if teachers ever made him answer questions
if his parents supervised what he watched on television as a young child
if his parents knew strategies that could assist him in making wise choices at a young age
if he knew how to relate to a friend
if was allowed to have friends come to his home (it was reported that no friends or work personnel were allowed in the family home by the mother)
if anyone ever did any role playing with him to dramatize social situations
if anyone talked to him about his feelings
if anyone knew his favorite color or what he liked to eat or why he buttoned his shirt all the way up
Oh my goodness, as I cry tears of anguish at the haunting answers to these questions, what a difference all of these things and more could have made on this tragic, horrific day in Newtown, Connecticut. This, I wonder too, will Christmas ever come again to twenty-six families whose tears shall never dry?