Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Children that commit violent acts

With a heavy heart I watched along with the rest of the world as news media announced the worst mass murder in the history of our county. Twenty innocent little lives stolen by gun violence, it is unimaginable to think of how a person could take the lives of children. The shooter, a suspected Aspie, was a victim of a failed mental health intervention by his mother or whoever else charged with caring for him.  I understand that the shooter’s mother supposedly suffered in silence dealing with him. Reports indicate that she rarely discussed the shooter’s “condition” or his mental health status. She didn’t even tell his childhood babysitter specifics about his condition only stressing that her son was not to be left alone, ever. My question is why this mother would expose her mentally unstable son [whom I suspect was given the diagnosis of Aspergers as a cover for his true antisocial nature] to guns as a means of recreation. She had to think, given his mental challenges; there was a chance that he would use guns inappropriately. 

Okay, so back to my theory that his Aspergers diagnosis was just a front for his true pathology of antisocial or psychopathic behaviors. Many troubled and behaviorally challenged children may get the diagnosis of Aspergers because in the mental health community most Aspergers kids have the common problem of being easily frustrated or quick to anger, lacking empathy, and social awkwardness. Well, guess what? Psychopaths or Antisocial personalities can be socially awkward as well. Not all Antisocial personalities are as charming like Christian Bale’s portrayal of the American Psycho; however, all clinically diagnosable Antisocial personalities do lack empathy. This is how they are able to commit mass murders and serial killings.

Contrary to belief, Aspies do possess the capability for empathy…they just have problems expressing empathy.  And, they may not have the same level of empathy for certain things/situations as an NT is expected to have. For instance, my son Marty had his first progress evaluation for preschool and surprisingly [I am being sarcastic here] the teacher says he has challenges in his social development, specifically as it relates to showing empathy and interacting with his peers and familiar adults. His teacher gave an example of how Marty will ignore a classmate when that classmate’s stacked blocks fall to the ground; yet, he is visibly upset when his blocks fall. And, for some reason Marty still has not bonded with his classmates. He chooses to hyper-focuses on one kid, Jayden, and will insist on doing everything with Jayden. Granted, I understand that Marty has issues relating to other kids; therefore, he really isn’t interested in making more than one friend.  And, I really don’t think the ‘stacked blocks’ scenerio was a valid example of Marty’s issues with empathy. I have seen him be considerate and empathetic with others that HE cares for. Had it been Jayden’s blocks to hit the floor, I am certain that Marty would have reacted with concern. With Aspies, they pick and choose who is allowed in their world; those outside of their world may not matter as much.  Sad, but true. For instance, earlier this week, Marty presented me with a lovely rock loosely shaped like a heart. He says, “This is the Heart Rock, it’s for you, so you can stop crying.” Awe, thanks; I think. Marty hates to see me cry; he gets upset…the angry, I wish you would stop crying because I can’t process that emotion, kind of upset though. Still, giving me the rock to acknowledge my emotional state was a nice touch. I think.
Back to the Connecticut shooting; it took me days to process my grief and confusion. To see the precious little faces of those beautiful victims left me in tears, angry, and wanting to blame someone or something. This tragic event prompted a debate on whether or not Aspies are prone to violent acts. Aspie-rage is now a topic of media conversation. Recently, a blogger disclosed the verbal and physical abuse she faces on a regular basis by her adolescent son [suspected of Aspergers]. She took a stand to show compassion for the shooter's mom. Although, my sympathies for the shooter's mom are limited, I do feel for the blogger. She is probably tortured by the thought of her son someday becoming a violent offender. I think about this as well. Marty is physically aggressive with me too. Just the other day, he pummeled me in the abdomen with his fists because I wouldn’t let him go with his brother to a friend’s house and several times a week Marty attempts to ram me with his head. I am trying to get him to manage his frustration and anger properly as I know ‘the system’ is quick to give black kids an ADHD or Behavioral Disorder diagnosis and put them on the pipeline to Conduct Disorder and prison, further supporting my belief that many black males [some may be non-violent offenders] in the prison system inadvertently get the, more severe, Conduct Disorder diagnosis when they probably should have an Aspergers or high functioning autism diagnosis and its co-occurring partner in crime, Oppositional Defiance Disorder. Likewise, Aspergers diagnosis has become the new black and because it is unethical to diagnose a kid [minor] with a personality disorder…many clinicians may choose to give them the ‘mild Aspergers’ tag. However, it’s a lot of bipolar and undiagnosed schizo-affective kids out here, and a bunch of immature sociopaths that the mental healthcare system can’t deal with. Sadly, many times it is those kids with extreme social detachment, varying degrees of depression, and little or no involvement with their family system that turn to deviance, violence, and crime. And more depressing, are the moms like that blogger, who turn to the healthcare system for help for their child only to discover that their is no real help. Thankfully, it is parents like that blogger that don't give up on their child and ultimately do find the answers they need.

I think, the Connecticut shooter had a serious mental illness that was not properly managed by his family. Perhaps his parents were too private about their son’s mental health. I believe it takes a village to raise a child. Marty knows most of the neighbors on our block, so if he happens to get out of the house [by himself] without my knowledge, he doesn’t get very far without a neighbor asking if his mom knows that he is out. By that time, I am on Marty's heels having heard the alarm on the door chime after Marty has left the house without permission. Most of my neighbors know that Marty is likely Autistic; I am not ashamed of this. I need my neighbors to know how to handle Marty as well as have awareness of his challenges. A couple of weeks ago, Marty was with his brother playing at a friend’s house. Marty decides to play with some of the girls on the block and proceeds to urinate in front of their house and ask them to watch. Well, the girls’ mother, although appalled by Marty’s inappropriate behavior, knows about Marty’s issues. She’s definitely upset about the incident, but she has a sense of compassion for Marty that keeps her from discarding him. Thus, the child is separated from the behaviors. Of course, after that incident, Marty is reprimanded by the neighbors, and then me; the fact that he is held accountable for his actions by someone other than me is a blessing that will further help Marty learn how to relate to others.
Even though Marty may not be wired to be ‘social’ like his NT peers; his experiences and exposure to his community has made his more conscious of what ‘society’ expects from him. Lesson learned – if you pee in front of the neighbor’s yard, you will be dealt with…more than once.  I think many kids become desensitized by their parent’s chastisement, but when that scolding comes from another adult in authority it adds a certain ‘shock value’ that leaves a lasting impression. Anyway, the point I am trying to make is this: kids that go on shooting rampages with the intent to murder and maim people probably do not have the social support, family system, and sense of attachment needed to give them pause, restraint, and the sympathy they require to prevent such acts. These kids definitely have serious mental illnesses [plural] that are either undiagnosed or improperly untreated.

It is important to remember that Aspergers is considered a developmental disorder not a mental illness. If the Connecticut shooter had a legitimate diagnosis of Aspergers, I guarantee that he had a co-occurring mental illness diagnosis as well and that he showed signs of mental distress and/or psychosis leading up to the shooting. May those 20 precious little people and the teachers that perished trying to protect them rest in peace.


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