Florida School Shooting: Autism Is Not the Reason for This Tragedy! by Mindy Hudon, M.S., CCC-SLP
As a parent and educator, I extend my thoughts and prayers to all who have been touched by the horrific violence that occurred in Florida. As an autism advocate, I feel I must express my concerns about how quickly the media reported that the perpetrator was diagnosed with autism. Autism is not the reason this tragedy happened! By reporting this diagnosis, the media is creating a connection between a diagnosis of autism and the act of committing violence. I am concerned that insinuating that autism is the cause of this tragedy will create irrational fear. The Autism Society of America made the following statement on February 15, 2018:
“We ask that those reporting about this tragic event not suggest or imply any linkage of autism and violence. Implying or suggesting that a person who is diagnosed with autism is violent is not only wrong but hurtful to the over 3.5 million individuals living in the United States and any other individual with an autism diagnosis.”
I have the fortunate opportunity to know and work with children and adults with autism on a daily basis. There are many unexplained reasons why this act of violence occurred, but autism is not one of them!
When we are trying to solve a problem it is important to look at anything that the shooters have in common. Many of them have autism in common. By all accounts the Parkland shooter coddled her son and even allowed an unhealthy obsession with guns to flourish in her child on the spectrum. Many times with our son we have had to replace one obsession with another that we felt was more healthy.
I have found that people tend to want to make excuses for kids with any disability. Nothing becomes their fault and things that can be changed are palliated and excused away because poor thing he struggles with Autism and kids are mean to him.
With all due respect, so what? Jerks exist everywhere and as much as we might want to get rid of them all we never will. It is much better practice to teach our kids, especially those on the spectrum, how to cope with the jerks. How to manage their own reactions and how to live a productive, fulfilling life - one that doesn't involve the mental gymnastics necessary to internally justify killing people.
Me people will go there.. I heard crazy stuff just visiting my wife at work..
As a society we need to embrace the differences of kids on the spectrum and realize that not everyone should be treated the same. Forcing a child with a fear of separation to stay in a room by himself , may not be the way to discipline a child like that. That doesn’t excuse anyone, especially this latest young man but we have to careful not to paint all kids on the spectrum as bad or disturbed. They are so much more than that . This boy was lost, maybe bc of ASD or maybe bc he was misdiagnosed or mistreated, we will probably never know. What we do know is no one with his history like his should have ever been allowed to own a gun. The system failed to protect the children @ his school and it failed to protect the shooter from himself and his peers.
has a fantastic summary of research on ASD and violence . Here is also a 2014 systematic review on the subject stating the same conclusion:.
Students with ASD are much more likely to be victims of violence, not perpetrators.
To neurotypical people, the differences in the w i d e variety of behavior influenced by ASD can be confusing, but any forms of aggression seen in autistic individuals are typically unplanned, impulsive, and toward themselves because of sensory dysregulation and/or communication breakdowns.
Let's move beyond finding labels of people to blame for violence (i.e., ASD, mental illness) and work toward instilling systems that promote community, emotional development, and meet the social needs of those most frequently ostracized. Differences are not evil.