Following the shootings of primary school children in Newtown, Connecticut on 14 December, I read an article in which Adam Lanza was linked with autism. Click on the link if you want to read the article.
A number of ALS colleagues read this and one person responded with the following which they have allowed me to share with you:
‘Thank you for sharing this. It makes me feel very sad and frustrated but sadly not suprised that this has been the reported in this misleading way and without even getting the basic facts about this complex condition correct.
The world is very ignorant of what autism really is yet many people think they have a good understanding of it because they have read the theory or have met one autistic person when really they understand very little. These people are probably actually the worst in my view and, as a parent of an autistic little boy, I avoid them.
When you have met one person with autism ,you have met one person with autism. It does not mean you can claim any sort of understanding of the condition as the next person you meet with autism will be totally different.
Just because a child with autism finds it so difficult to ‘read’ emotion in others and express or articulate themselves in a socially acceptable way it does not mean they do not feel love, empathy, sadness grief or any other emotion like the rest of the population. The hackneyed old stereotypes of autistic people being cold, lacking empathy and all being potential psychopaths needs to be stamped out once and for all. It seems autism is the last bastion of discrimination with articles written like this.
In my view,these people should go and spend time at my son’s school and see the love , affection and fantastic behaviour displayed by these children (often better than neurotypical children of a similar age) and then they may be able to claim something of an understanding.’