Hate crime against autistic people happens because of ignorance and prejudice. I have a theory that some people only have to hear the world ‘autism’ and they immediately think of American high school massacres where the shooters happened to be autistic.
Take Adam Lanza (Sandy Hook) for example.
Obviously, what Lanza did was unforgivable – not to mention inexcusable – but here’s the thing: being autistic did NOT made him a murderer.
Adam Lanza allegedly had a mental illness that had gone untreated. He was also suffering from malnutrition as a result of anorexia. Malnutrition causes brain damage. He’d also been bullied, rejected and isolated for the majority of his school life. One of the most important factors of all? His gun enthusiast mother taught him to shoot at an early age and he had access to guns. This is one hell of a toxic mix, no? There are numerous factors as to why he became a mass murderer but the one thing that some people focus on is the fact that he was autistic.
The fact is that after the story about Adam Lanza broke, young autistic people were bullied, especially online.
This is how ignorant people can be.
The truth is that an autistic person is more likely to commit suicide (or be murdered by a family member) than mass murder.
Why do autistic people commit suicide?
“These are individuals who have been struggling all their lives to fit in,” “Along the way, they have really been suffering.” ~ Simon Baron-Cohen – professor of developmental psychopathology at the University of Cambridge in the U.K
Why? Because society won’t allow them to be themselves. Autistic people are put under enormous pressure to adapt to society in order to fit in and to conform.
Getting back to mass murder – most school ‘shooters’ are Caucasian males. So, if every autistic boy is a potential mass murderer, then this must mean that every Caucasian boy who goes to school is also potential mass murderer, right? Of course not. So why would people think that a child is likely to go off on a murderous spree just because they’re autistic?
Because they are f**king idiots, that’s why.
A mass murderer may well be autistic but that doesn’t mean that it’s the cause of the crime anymore than being Caucasian, having blue eyes or wearing a Nirvana tee shirt is.
“Correlation does not imply causation.”
One problem the autistic community has is irresponsible journalists mentioning mass murder and autistic in the same sentence. The two are linked together and what we have are ignorant people who think that just because a child is autistic – they are potential murderers. So when a boy is known to be autistic, what chance does he have? He’s autistic, therefore he’s a danger to all the NT kids?
My son is eight years old and he’s autistic. He’s one of the loveliest and kindest people I have ever known. He likes to make people laugh. His friends matter to him. When those friends reject him, it hurts him deeply and he can’t express that hurt in words, so he lashes out or he harms himself.
He’s not an angel. He can be rude. He can be grumpy but what 8/9 year old child isn’t?
Earlier this year he came home from school and he’d been having meltdowns. He had another one at home only this time he was self-harming – banging his head against the wall. We eventually learned that one of his friends had told him that they were forbidden to play with him. Why? Because he’d given this child some of his money to buy a snack. The child’s parents interpreted this as my son trying to ‘buy their child’s friendship’.
He doesn’t understand the concept of bribery.
He was being kind!
NEWSFLASH – autistic people do have empathy.
My son broke his heart in front of me.
“I hate myself, Mummy”
I don’t blame the child in question but I do hold the parents accountable for my son’s epic meltdown that day. I don’t know about you, but I would be absolutely mortified if I knew that a child had self-harmed because of something I’d said or done.
The depressing fact is that the leading cause of premature death in autistic people is suicide. If society changes their attitude towards us, that statistic will change. As an autistic person, I understand it. As the mother of an autistic boy – it terrifies me.
Research suggests that autistic boys (especially those with aspergers) from the age of 10 years up are more vulnerable to suicidal thoughts and attempts to take their own lives. Sadly, some succeed, like 11 year old Shane who killed himself as a result of being bullied because he was autistic.
Those who bullied him didn’t directly kill him but they abused him to the point that he felt life wasn’t worth living. It’s hate crime. They are accountable as far as I am concerned. Yet they are free to grow up and get on with their lives. Sound fair to you?
“Shane was a fighter. He made everyone he met happy. He put a smile on their faces. He was extremely intelligent in science, history and any type of animals and their habitats. He had a huge, loving heart (Tammy Laycock – Shane’s mother)
Going back to journalists..
Bethalto boy struggled with autism before killing himself.
Lets be clear here. This boy did not ‘struggle with autism’ before he killed himself. He struggled with how he was treated by staff and children at his school. Had they have treated him with the kindness and respect he deserved, do you honestly think he would have chosen to kill himself?
Autism didn’t kill this beautiful little boy. Prejudice, ignorance and intolerance killed him.
My son won’t become a statistic if I have anything to do with it. For me, the fight starts here. At 8 years of age he is unhappy because of the actions of a few people. The latest being an incident when we were verbally abused in the street. The tirade was aimed at me but it was about my son and he happened to be stood next to me listening to every word..
“Why don’t you have some self respect and remove him from school”
This coming from someone who was EPICALLY losing their shit in the street in front of their own child?
“Your son’s a bully”
Obviously I’m not supposed to get irony because I’m autistic (we do sarcasm too) but here is a person who is verbally abusing me and my son in the street and who is also making a concerted effort to get him kicked out of school because he’s ‘a bully’ despite there being no actual evidence for it.
He’s not a bully. He is a vulnerable child.
So tell me. Who’s the bully?
I reported the incident to the police and the person got a caution and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. If it had just been me, I’d have let it go, but nobody intimidates my son and gets away with it.
My son isn’t Adam Lanza. Nor is any other autistic boy. His world is challenging, yes, but that doesn’t make him a bad person. I wish that people would educate themselves about autism instead of reading sensationalised news stories written by irresponsible journalists.
I will fight for my son’s right to live in this world free of fear because it’s his world too.
Because when it comes to my offspring I will fight with the fangs of a wolf and the claws of a dragon. And no one, or nothing will stop me from protecting them.