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Autism is Not The Cause of Violence


Again, it happened. I’m devastated, sad, and angry that our media is in a race to be first, and misinformed us.

My thoughts and prayers are with all of those who are suffering in the wake of the tragedy of Isla Vista.

Another mentally ill mad man did the unspeakable. He went after innocence, he went after girls, he went after his roommates, he went after anyone that he thought wronged him. I believe he was mentally ill after watching his multiple YouTube videos and reading his 141 page manifesto. The break with reality was sad, and I am shocking that the system, his parents, and the police failed him, and then they failed the rest of us.

But all of that will be a can of worms that will be open and picked apart over the next several months.

Watching the reports this morning, I was saying to myself “Okay media, get it right, don’t do it again”.  But sadly, I was disappointed.

After the Colorado movie theatre shootings, there were multiple reports that the shooter was a loner and possibly autistic. After Newtown, CT ABC News reported, “Shooter was autistic – with personality disorder”.  The same thing happened the day after the Aurora, CO shooting.  Joe Scarborough of MSNBC said, “These shooters are young, white, men, possibly autistic, loners.”  Then after Newtown, Piers Morgan on CNN, had a psychologist who stars on a Bravo reality show listening to millionaire cocktail queen Bethenny Frankel whine about her poor pathetic life, slathering misinformation about Autism. Piers Morgan then goes on to say, “People with autism are missing something in the brain.”

I’m watching this morning, and praying that we’ve learned something from all this tragedy, but then this morning 3 reports went on to state that the mad man had possibly been diagnosed with “Aspergers” at a younger age.

No actual facts, but on their race to be first to report they say autism is the reason. Reports this morning are stating autism is a mental illness, personality disorder, and behavior disorder.  Over and over to the point of nausea.  There are no reports or evidence that autism has ever been the cause of violence.

In fact, there are more reports and research that those with autism are more likely to be the victims of crime, assault, and murder. That is actual fact.

As the parent of 2 small children with autism, I am upset that this current situation could possibly set back autism acceptance and awareness by years. These children have so much social stigma on them already, so much to fight through just to do what typical children do. False, misguided and uninformed reports about autism only makes it harder for our children.

My son does have public temper tantrums and outbursts, and can be aggressive at times. I get stares, I have had friends stop bringing their children over to play, and the last thing we needed is to have the label of *psycho killer* that my children have to carry on their tiny little shoulders.

I thought the job of the media was to tell a story of what happened? They literally set back the acceptance and understanding of autism for years.

After the Newtown shootings as I lost most hope for those in the media CNN’s Dr Sanjay Gupta proved to be the voice of reason via social media.  On his twitter feed “Something needs to be clarified, there is no evidence of a link between autism and planned violent behavior”.  Then Anderson Cooper took to the airwaves to debunk the myths being reported about autism.  So to Anderson, “thank you,” to Megan Kelly, “thank you,” to Dr Gupta, we appreciate your truth, support and common sense in your reporting.

Megan Kelly was the first to report on America’s Newsroom Megan Kelly “Autism is not a mental illness but a neurological disorder.”  And believe it or not that is not very hard to research.  That exact definition is on the CDC, The Autism Society and Autism Speaks websites.

My heart hurts for my kids, and I was just overwhelmed with the thought of, what if a shooter came into my kids class?  My son cognitively would not know what was going on, he would not receptive understand instructions from the person trying to hurt him or help him.  The sensory overload of his nervous system would probably cause him to do something that would end up costing him his life.  That is the reality of austim that the media is missing.  These kids are more likely to be the victim, the helpless, silent victim of a crime than the perpetrator.

I feel sadness for children with autism that now have a new battle to overcome.  They now have to fight their way out of the inaccurate reports from some journalists that are not fact checking.

I have a friend that always tells me “Your kids don’t play with mine,” “They don’t share,” “They don’t want to be friends with my kid”. I have to constantly fight that kind of ignorance, and now I have to be an advocate for all the kids and families with autism that our kids aren’t going to turn psycho killers. The setback that our families get all the time is heart breaking, when the media inaccurate reporting on our children’s diagnosis’ is devastating.

So as this tragedy is on the forefront of our minds, I hope we really learn that until we are ready to deal with mental illness, we are never going to overcome this kind of event.

The truth is there is evil in the world, the truth is we can’t hide it or ignore it. Mental illness is tragic, but it can be treated, ignore it and it is like putting gasoline on a fire. That is what happened here. We can not blame autism, or make autism a mental illness, when it is defined by the CDC as a Neurological disorder.

Rebecca is a stay at home mom of 2 boys with Autism that keep her very busy. She has been writing her blog “The Real Moms of OC” for 2 years. She is a wife, mom, slayer of dragons, CEO of the home, bus driver, maid, short order cook and princess. She also runs through the mud and half marathons. She managed with the help of an amazing medical team to beat breast cancer and is thankfully cancer free for 3 years.
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