Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Thanks Joe Scarborough, You Just Set Back The Autism Community About 60 Years

Last Friday morning I woke up and learned about the movie theatre massacre in Aurora.  

Twelve people were killed - including 6 year old, Veronica Moser-Sullivan.  More than 50 people were injured. Among the injured, a pregnant woman.

I've spent the last few days glued to the news, unable to stop watching the coverage.  And the stories are horrific and heartbreaking.

And yesterday, I read this article by Tommy Christopher.  As a parent of a young son with autism, it was devastating to read (and hear) Joe Scarborough's words: 

You have these people that are somewhere, I believe, probably on the autism scale, I don’t know if that’s the case here, but it happens more often than not, people that can walk around in society, that can function on college campuses, can even excel in college campuses, but are socially disconnected. I have a son who has Asperger’s who is loved by everyone in his family and who is wonderful, but it is for those that may not have a loving family and a support group and may be a bit further along on the autism spectrum, an extraordinarily frustrating, terrible challenge day in and day out. and so, I do think, again, I don’t know the specifics about this young man, but we see too many shooters in these type of tragedies bearing the same characteristics mentally.  (Joe Scarborough)
I wonder if he realizes how damaging his words are to the autism community?

He should know the stigma so many children and parents face.

Autism is word so many parents fear.  And Scarborough's statement?  It perpetuates that fear.  His statement is reminiscent of the 1950s when autism was labeled as 'childhood schizophrenia' and the 'Refrigerator Mother' theory.

The year is 2012 and with all of the information out there on autism, there are people who still have no idea what autism is or what it "looks" like.  Ignorant people who will take Joe Scarborough's statement and run with it.

That being said, there is a small part of me that understands where his statement comes from.  And we can all have our speculations.  However, I am not a doctor and neither is Joe Scarborough.  

So for Scarborough to make an "amateur diagnosis" based off of sound bites from people who knew James Holmes, is not only reckless but just as ignorant as 50 Cent's tweet.    
All we know at this point is that we can't understand it; we have no idea whether he had a history of psychiatric illness or had been exhibiting warning signs of a psychotic breakdown. And the amateur diagnoses we've been hearing are painfully misinformed... (Caroline Miller, Child Mind Institute)

Now is not the time to play guess the diagnosis.  This is the time to have a discussion that's long overdue.  The Aurora massacre is the kind of senseless tragedy that gives a nation pause.  It will dominate the the news for weeks. 

But will any real change come of this? 
While it was reported that the weapons were purchased legally, I have trouble understanding how a single individual - a civilian - is able to purchase more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition without raising an eyebrow?  How can a civilian be allowed to purchase tear gas?  Somehow, I don't believe this is what the forefathers meant by the right to bear arms.  

As one of my FB friends stated, "It's easier for a person to get a gun in this country, than mental health services."

That's exactly the point I wish Joe Scarborough would have focused on. 

UPDATE:   Since I posted, Joe Scarborough released a statement clarifying his remarks regarding Holmes being on the "autism scale."  

...I suggested that the Aurora tragedy should make Americans focus more on mental health in this country. I also stated that my own experiences raising a son with Aspergers made me keenly aware of how important strong support systems are to those who might otherwise be isolated.

The growing Autism epidemic is a tremendous burden for children, parents and loved ones to endure. My call for increased funding and awareness for Autism and other mental health conditions was meant to support the efforts of those who work every day to improve the lives of Americans impacted. Those suggesting that I was linking all violent behavior to Autism missed my larger point and overlooked the fact that I have a wonderful, loving son with Aspergers. Perhaps I could have made my point more eloquently.
(Joe Scarborough)

Hmmmm not really the kind of statement I think the autism community was looking for.   But just don't take my word for it, check out what this guy has to say

1 comment:

  1. AnonymousJuly 29, 2012

    I was just wondering if you know that Joe Scarborough is also suffering from a disease, so we need to be more understanding. He suffers from Cranial Rectal Inversion Disorder. I for one think we should all give Poor Mr. Scarborough a pat on the back. If he happens to be on the edge of a cliff at the time; I guess it's just God's will. Especially if he happens to land on Pat Robertson.


AutismWonderland - written by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez - is a personal blog chronicling a NYC family's journey with autism, while also sharing local resources for children/families with special needs.