|Posted on January 3, 2013 at 8:00 AM|
By now I'm sure that you are familiar with, or at least aware of, the terrifying incidents that occured at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Adam Lanza went into this school and opened fired killing 26 people, 20 of them children. Today marks the day that the faculty, staff and students return to the school and attempt to re-establish some sense of normalty to their lives.
This story has brought lots of issues to the forefront of the American conscious. The most obvious one is gun control and many people have their thoughts on that. But there is an underlying issue that is present in this troubling story; Adam Lanza was reportedly diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome.
With this piece of information, many have irresponsibly attempted to connect autism with violence. Autism Speaks has reported a 150 percent increase in calls and emails since the tragedy. Also, The Autism Society has seen a tremendous increase in the traffic to its website.
People are concerned and they want to know more about autism but not for reasons of education. They want to ensure that they and their loved ones are "safe." There should be no reason that people should "fear" those with autism because of violent or aggressive behavior.
This type of information is appalling because it's obvious that people are coming to conclusions about something in which they know little to nothing about. People are making assumptions about those with autism and linking two factors that should not be linked. Autism does not equate aggression just as race, ethnicity, religion, etc. doesn't equate to aggression. It is foolish and ignorant to assume so.
What I would hope is that people would take the time to research Asperger's Syndrome, and the entire autism spectrum, to get a better understanding because it is misunderstood by most who are not directly affected by it. This could be an opportunity for people to educate themselves rather than come to false conclusions. The entire country is grieving over this tragedy. This isn't a time to ostracize a group of unique individuals because of a misunderstanding. This is a time to stand together as a nation regardless of our differences.