December 17, 2012
On The Defense
I’ve been on a kind of hiatus for a while now, while I was pregnant and had my fourth child. A fourth boy. I’ve been ready to come back for a few weeks, but got caught up in the holidays and boy #3’s birthday and more holidays and life. I have stories for you, tales of Jack and his new brother, Jack and his fascination with horrible weather events and historical vehicular disasters (both air- and sea-borne), Jack and his new love of making gifts for everyone. Stories about how we need to find an ABA or someone who can help me now that Jack’s older, anecdotes about how Jack is doing in school.
Life has, as is its wont, interceded in my plans.
On Friday, twenty children died. Twenty mamas lost their babies. Twenty families were wrenched apart at the very time of year we, regardless of religion, tend to gather our loved ones closest. Those charged with keeping them safe died as well, in the course of doing that very job. There are older mamas missing babies tonight, too.
Why should this affect me, other than the fact that two of my children are the same age as those who were lost? Other than the obvious devastation one feels when something horrifying transpires? Other than the unbearable sadness at the loss of innocents? One word.
There have been rumours and speculation that the individual who destroyed twenty-seven lives is on the spectrum. Nothing concrete, but enough for the mainstream and social media to grasp in their hot little feeds and run with. I have seen comments on my friends’ posts about how “the shooter has autism and that’s why”. I watched Piers Morgan, on CNN, say that people with Asperger’s are “missing a piece of their brain” and can’t feel sympathy. I have felt the bile rising in my throat for three days.
Everything I’ve worked for with my son is teetering on a fence now. This situation could go either way. People will come to their senses and understand that ASD is not the cause of a massacre, or they won’t, and I fear for what happens then. I’m girding myself, because people have notoriously and stubbornly, as evidenced by our last election, refused to be sensible.
Why should this bother me? My child doesn’t have rage issues. My child would never do this. My child isn’t in danger.
I’m sure there are many parents out there tonight who thought the same things and were wrong.
I don’t know what the future holds for my child, or how his ASD is going to affect him in five or ten or twenty years. I can only hope that with early intervention and constant, loving support, he’ll be a contributing member of society. A happy person with nothing more on his plate than he can handle, and the sense to reach out for help when he can’t.
What I do know is that all of a sudden, instead of telling people that my son has autism with a sense of pride (because I am damned proud of my son), I am defensive. I feel the need to explain. He’s high functioning. He’s really empathetic and loving. He’s not that person.
I don’t want to be defensive about my son, and I don’t want him to ever feel defensive about himself. Especially not because some other person who may or may not be on the spectrum had more than he could handle and made some seriously bad decisions. I want him to be as proud of himself as I am, always.
Someday I will tell him about the babies who were lost, and why. And we will talk about it, and we will probably not be able to understand, ever. And I will continue to tell him that he is loved and supported, even if he’s angry. Even if he’s angry with me.
Mental health support is vital. The village cannot survive without it. I’m doing my part.