People Have Scary Backwards: Embracing Our Common Humanity in the Wake of Unspeakable Tragedy

Across the internet and in the real world, people are offering opinions concerning autism/aspergers and violence. While media outlets are making an effort to be more responsible and counter the incredibly frightening ignorance that so many are displaying regarding autism and violent behavior, commentators are continuing to double down on their hateful, fearmongering rhetoric.

It's enough to make anyone weep. I'd link to some of the nastiness out there, but really, all you have to do is read the news articles, look around facebook, and venture out into the community and listen to people talk and it's obvious that we in the autism community have so much more work to do to convey the humanity that is intrinsic and should be unquestionable to our autistic children, siblings, parents, spouses, friends, coworkers.

If ever there was a need to advocate for acceptance of people in all their diversity, it's now. And it's not just our autism community we need to be pushing for acceptance for. Neurological disorders labeled as mental illnesses (with all the negative, stigmatizing emotions attached to the labels) continue to be vilified. People coping with disorders like bipolar,schizophrenia, depression, and mood disorders are not people to be feared. They certainly don't need the additional baggage of having people fear them.

Mental health issues aren't new. They aren't rare. Every single one of us undoubtedly is either dealing with an issue personally or has a loved one or friend coping with one. Where support and acceptance are available to all those involved, outcomes don't have to be poor. Mental health issues and neurological delays and disorders don't have to be burdens to either the individual or the family. Suffering is not a necessity. Support matters. Being open and honest and accepting matter.

I don't know how we shut down the ignorance and the hate and the ugliness that is currently on display. I don't know that we can. All I know is that we can not give up the fight to bring light to the misconceptions that abound. All I know is that we must rally around our community and offer the truth of our lives as we face the challenges that society places in front of us. It isn't the neurological differences that are the biggest problem people face. It's the hate, the ignorance, and the lack of accommodations and acceptance.

My children are not violent. They are not aggressive. They are not scary. They are loving, happy kids who deserve none of the bullshit flying around about autistic individuals. So many of the autistic individuals I know are like my children, doing the best they can in a world not designed for them.

We don't know why Adam Lanza did what he did. We never will. Opinionated ignorant bigots looking for easy answers aren't likely to figure it out, but they'll be certain whatever answer they come up with is the right one. Life, though, isn't that simple, isn't that easy.

Recognizing that people are complicated, complex individuals with issues that may not be apparent to others is vitally important. Even more important is seeing the common humanity we all share and working to make sure that all people have the support they need and the validation that they are worthy and valuable and have something to offer their community.

We can't convince everyone this is true, but we can work in our way to make sure that our lives echo that belief system and hope that the ripples will be felt, that all of us making our own waves will create a sea change.


farmwifetwo said...

I still believe one has to address the violent issues within mental health and stop ignoring it and take it seriously. For all those that aren't, there are many that are and it needs to be addressed not pushed aside. I don't care what the dx is.... it needs to be considered and monitored along with any other care the patient receives. Meds may stop or cause issues, puberty, the end of puberty, depression, a lack of ability to control one's emotions.

It can happen... ignoring it doesn't make it go away. My favs are those that post things about their children that are aggressive and now are back peddalling about how nice they are... Whatever.

Then comes the other parents that tell you about how autism is about meltdowns and fettishes and now are claiming they don't happen and that they can't plan things in advance... Whatever.

Stuff happens... deal with it. Claiming it can't, claiming that mental health isn't a serious concern and stuff can't go wrong... It needs to stop. It isn't just mass murders that happen...



Then lets talk about suicides and people killing their spouses and children and....

It happens daily... people that aren't coping need help not the slamming or ignorning or the "it won't happen to me" that occurs online daily especially in autism-land which IMO are the least compassionate of the lot.

Amy Caraballo said...

We need to address violence in society...not a specific population. Wake up USA, 50% of us will have a mental health disorder sometime in our adult life.

Great article, Kim!