Despite our sadness, shock, and anger over the horrendous massacre that occurred in Newtown, CT. this past week, Bill and I find ourselves watching the unending news coverage, usually later at night after Casey has gone to bed, when there's not much else on to distract us. CNN seems to be the channel of choice for our viewing, with Piers Morgan berating gun supporters and Anderson Cooper shedding a genuine tear after reflecting on one of the twenty little kids that lost their life. So depressing. We ask why we watch, but we do.
Anderson Cooper has made a big point of not discussing the shooter, Adam Lanza, out of respect for those whose lives he stole, and so that the desperate people who might be in his same mental zone won't feel any sort of admiration for what he did. Any over discussion of this guy could backfire.
In light of reports that this kid was Aspergers, he's been getting a lot of thought and attention in my brain, and in the Autism community. Letters have been published from various Autism groups explaining that people with Autism are more likely to be victims of violence rather than be the creators of violence. I have to believe his issues didn't stop at the supposed Aspergers speculation. Bipolar? ODD? Who knows. The Aspergers has made the news.
We are told he was a loner, played a lot of violent video games, and was homeschooled later in his life. His family was split, parents divorced, as a result of his issues, I don't know. His mom didn't like leaving him alone yet she did, in a house with guns easily accessible. All these elements, the alleged Aspergers, the love of violence, family unrest... how did they affect this kid? What did it all do to him to cause him to crack as he did, in such a horrific and tragic way?
I kinda hate when people personalize such events, make it all about themselves. I'm not trying to do this here. But, the Autism aspect of this situation causes me to speculate and worry.
What about our Casey? He's not "Aspergers", whatever that really means nowadays, if it means anything anymore as some reports have sited. But, his Autism sparks thoughts and concerns that I didn't have before all these people were killed.
He's fourteen now, and he's hormonal. He has outbursts of anger sometimes that are a little scary. He can get a little physical, which can be scary too, considering his height and girth. His frustrations lie in, I believe, his inability to find the words sometimes to express how he is feeling in the moment. I hate to see it, especially since he's always been a mild mannered kid. Lanza was only twenty years old. Had he been violent as a teen as well?
Casey's social life is less than wonderful at school. He tells me that kids tell him to "back off" and "personal space, Casey!". When I asked him what one of his lunch mates and he talk about, he said the boy just bosses him around and tells him to eat his sandwich. FUN, huh? Casey's social skills are lacking to be sure, but he wants to have friends. Walking up and smelling peoples hair, getting in their faces, as he tends to do, but not in a forceful way, and trying to touch their ears don't really go over well. We work on these things constantly at home and at school, but in the moment, abstaining from such actions don't occur to him. The one boy he has taken a liking to has reportedly decided not to be friendly anymore, even though Casey, in his sweet way, won't accept it. I'm betting Adam Lanza was the same. His loner status confirmed by many can almost guarantee that. How did Adam's lack of friends and social life affect his brain, how did it play a role in his breakdown? How will it affect Casey someday?
When horrific things happen, your life can't stop. I can't stop sending Casey to school because I'm afraid of copycat events. In the same vein, I must not over analyze Adam Lanza and freak myself out about Casey's future.
I must take solace in the fact that Bill and I aren't divorced, like Adam's parents, nor are we planning on being so. We are a strong and supportive force in Casey's life, usually on the same wave length, and helping the other get their heads straight when one of us is out of sorts on things (this is usually Bill helping me get my head straight). We have never let Casey play with guns or play video games with shooting. He doesn't have any interest anyway, thank God. His violent tendencies, if you want to call them that, only come about during moments of frustration, usually with me trying to get him to do something he doesn't want to do. He's even started to tell me he needs to ride his exercise bike during such times, taking it up on himself to regulate his feelings the best way he knows how, and it almost always helps. We involve him in many activities that lend themselves to social interaction outside of the school setting. We try to do as much as we can to help in this area. We do the best we can, and that's all we can do.
I hope that we are doing everything and more that Adam Lanza's parents didn't.