I am still reeling from the depth and magnitude of what happened last week with the killing of so many young children and their heroic teachers and staff. I am not sure when, if ever, I will be able to make any sense of this extreme violence. However, in the media frenzy that always follows such events there have been irresponsible statements attributing autism as a possible explanation. Below is the Autism Society's reponse on this issue.
Some media outlets are reporting that the shooter had a psychiatric condition; some on the news or social media have mentioned autism. At this time no diagnosis has been officially documented and any implication that autism might have had an impact on the person's mindset related to the shootings is misleading. There is no evidence or any reliable research that suggests a linkage between autism and premeditated violence. Unfounded suggestions that connect violent actions to a diagnosis is wrong and harmful to the millions of law abiding, non-violent individuals living with a disability.While we may wonder what caused anyone to commit such a violent attack, we must not jump to conclusions and blame autism for this behavior.
As with other tragedies that have occurred in our country, the eventual actions of an individual do not present a complete picture. Currently, there are an estimated 1.5 million people in the United States living with an autism spectrum disorder. The Autism Society's is focused on ensuring access to appropriate services for all individuals regardless of their disability. Unfortunately, those services don't exist for far too many , and we must determine how best to help those when support services do not exist. If our nation is to address these senseless and tragic events and work to prevent them from happening in the future we must examine how our school and social service systems respond to and address the needs of individuals. Social isolation, bullying and other red flags must be noted, properly documented and addressed. Although these actions can never be justified, unmet needs can result in extreme circumstances.
The Autism Society emphasizes
the need for early detection, accurate diagnosis, sufficient transition
planning and effective lifespan services so that individuals and their families
can be provided the supports and services they require. At the Autism
Society our highest priority is to offer practical resources and tools that
support individuals to push the limits of their abilities and be valued members
of society. It is our belief that appropriate services and the
availability of community resources not only lead to better outcomes for
individuals living with autism they may also help to deter future tragedies.
The Autism Society network extends throughout the country with local and state affiliates able to assist. Visitwww.autism-society.org or join the conversation at http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?e=00102WL2hRQ6vOk88KWGrCIHFxqVBf9M8-Niova3-fsNYj6zLmSfQXQVVBeAMnIYN3Wc2bCUcK1MEIDaLJ2Op67b1OklosSbHdLs1l3l6njrXmMZ8ygfmG_e7vkrPTvYo0y8FVHuupLu-Q=
Our national contact center (1-800-328-8476) is available Monday - Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (eastern time).
During this difficult time we join the nation as we keep our collective attention focused on the children and teachers who were killed yesterday.
Jim Ball, Chair, Autism Society Board of Directors
Scott Badesch, Autism Society President/COO
Below are resources for parents on how to talk to our children and individuals affected by autism on death. Please contact our state office at 1.888.691.1270 if you are need of any support...
There are resources for parents that provide guidance on how to talk about crisis events with your children.
Child Development Institute Parenting Today:
- How to talk to kids about tragedies in the media: http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?e=00102WL2hRQ6vOHGTPk1MlxN_Xo2d4U5yC_SJxpBXsSexUw_BQd6kBw2POzSvkspLqHShISYWIlLWEpr0xB0YqH88h-Sj5ZutS0lTTKlyMQNhh2-bidMjrlFtXoTewcpv8oUpeBIZwhwWxrnr7Pd7F4DF1tQGNeMnWXfvlxQyJ4oMJGRu7DjXOWBBeXO7oH_Z9iLWxRteoP7dc9JKfWC0YYtfm3Rp9RNj44olcCQnGXa29HkP0l4jjfavWy-ogXbdWBEXudUtduoNhgJWf3cwzpUSbrcuADP7jsT-nupP72Pl5loeJDyfDnrjg_yaKKsAwqZBgWUOpVM7Jn0T2Y1SZPRA==
- How to talk to kids about violence: http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?e=00102WL2hRQ6vMHVEgw1g-fZXwszJqi_KtCpMZILJlfvFvJlsO94yDDEX8EVhLANOhqUE_edx54DQRoBczZLYj9vZr2gMWQU8kXwmcTtrwha1FoqFpEvjGgzBlTzaPhb8CESbAnfKHebwVTMudAZk0vmzFlck871Xn8kCV6y34n7Y4tmkv-cVtcyARlHtEIyDW6kKE8nxv_yUoKndA-xm9n40LkjLvrVLqD44Zh6L_PKrANOy46_pnmTJpUjYzfU9NmHcDK8iWgnOXNq7MvbwE8I9vLbmHYhzpT54jjGDk1ps3_8QOd9J1STgpqobB2--zKL5l2Nm2q-9M=
Parent Tips: Death and Grieving via Pathfinders for Autism:
How to talk to children with autism about death, by Jennifer Cerbasi: