The tragedy in Connecticut continues to raise many questions in the national consciousness. One of those questions stems from the fear that is now associated with Asperger’s Syndrome. I have done my best to be a voice for all of those on the autism spectrum and distill the fears in those who are less educated on the disorder. Yes, it’s a wide spectrum; from severely handicapped to highly functioning successful individuals. In my eyes, it is all autism, and there never needed to be a different label that memorialized Dr. Asperger. To separate the high from the lower functioning created an even bigger stigma for those considered “autistic.” Mikey considered himself autistic, although his newer official label was Asperger’s. He was as highly functioning as you will find – and still be truly affected with autism. They have over-used the Asperger’s label to the point that it’s become a catch-all for every child with a learning disability that acts a little bit anti-social. Mikey, on the other hand, exhibited every single symptom of autism, and there were about 13 different criteria if memory serves me. Symptoms such as :
- Possessing no fear of real danger, but fearing things they shouldn’t. What does that look like in a 3 year old? In Mikey, it meant he tried to make his great escape when I was traveling down the interstate at 60 m.p.h.. I heard the telltale sound of the door handle and glanced back to see Mikey had somehow wriggled out of his car seat and was preparing to jump out the door of the car onto the busy highway. That wasn’t scary looking to him. And yet, he would scream bloody murder if you tried to take him on an elevator.
- Obsession with spinning objects. Sorry folks, but obsession doesn’t mean a child’s autistic just because they enjoy watching a spinning top for 30 minutes. In Mikey, it meant if he was awake for four hours, 3 1/2 of those hours were spent with his eyes glued on a tape in the VCR or some other spinning object. It meant if you took away the spinning object, a full blown tantrum would ensue. Obsession means they CAN’T live without occupying themselves with it 24/7.
I could continue listing symptoms of classic autism, but I’d rather list the positive things that came out of today:
- I discovered “hardened” reporters have huge hearts, and their hearts bleed for their community members in distress
- I found an audience is ready to hear a message from someone such as myself, who is more of a bridge between traditional Christianity and Metaphysics, with a splash of Hinduism
- I discovered people never forget tragedies, never forget the names of the perpetrators, but often forget the names of the victims
Let us never forget.