Autism, Assumptions and Perpetuating Misperceptions

I was going to write something about the Aurora shootings, but I think it’s better if I give some links to things others have written.

This link is from Lydia Brown on her blog Autistic Hoya – All I Want to do is Weep.  She wrote it last Friday, July 20th before Joe Scarborough, whose son is Autistic, weighed in with his damaging, destructive words, needlessly adding fuel to the flames of ignorance and misperceptions that roar whenever the word autism is spoken.

Then, just as Lydia and others within the Autism community predicted, Joe Scarborough said,  “As soon as I hear about this shooting, I knew who it was. I knew it was a young, white male, probably from an affluent neighborhood, disconnected from society — it happens time and time again..”  He added, “Most of it has to do with mental health; you have these people that are somewhere, I believe, on the autism scale. I don’t know if that’s the case here, but it happens more often than not.”

His words, so predictable, so incredibly stupid it would have been comical had it not been so very harmful to so many.  When I read his comments I thought, people will read Lydia’s piece and assume she’s psychic, because that would be the only explanation for her ability to predict such a thing.  Right?

Kassiane Sibly wrote on her blog Radical Neurodivergence Speaking – Open Letter to the Media in the Wake of the Aurora Shootings

Paula Durbin-Westby wrote: Autism, Aurora Shooter, and Actual Crime Statistics

Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg wrote: Despicable: Joe Scarborogh’s  Words on Autims and Mass Murder

And finally here is the petition Rachel started, demanding Joe Scarborogh retract his statement.  Please sign.  This is too important.

Sign this Petition

These “theories” and it seems they are always “theories” which appear to be code for “opinion” are doing damage to people who are living their lives in a society that not only does not understand, seems unwilling to understand and even actively refuses to understand despite all the people who are trying to help them understand.

Autistics are saying – LISTEN TO US!   And we look around and say, huh, I don’t hear anything.

Autistics are saying – STOP SAYING THINGS ABOUT US WITHOUT INCLUDING US IN THE CONVERSATION!  And we look around and say to one another, Huh.  Did you hear something?  Nah.  Carry on.

Autistics are saying – NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US and we say, I don’t understand.  Why are they so angry?

Autistics are saying – YOUR MISPERCEPTIONS ABOUT US ARE HURTING US and we say, oh those autistics are not like my child, that’s not what my child would say.  My child is nonverbal.  My child can’t type.  My child doesn’t have a blog.  My child can’t say the things those Autistics can say and do.  My child is different.

How do you know? 

How do you know?

Joe.  You made a mistake.  Retract.  Apologize.  Make amends.  Have an Autistic on your show.  Listen to them.  Listen to your son.  Do the right thing, educate yourself.  You have a massive following.  You could make an incredible difference to so many lives including your son’s and your own.

I will end with this thought. I choose to presume competence, not just in Emma, but in myself and in my fellow human beings.  We ARE capable of listening to one another.  We ARE capable of shifting the perceptions of autism and Autistics, one person at a time.  I believe that, because to do otherwise is to live in a world I cannot and do not want to be a part of.

25 responses to “Autism, Assumptions and Perpetuating Misperceptions

  1. Thanks for writing on this subject. In the wake of tragedy, we often as nations leap further into tragedy, with little thought or remembrance to the last time we made thease same choices. The sadness we all feel when a crime has been committed is often hijacked by the media to further sensationalize a story with very little regard for all who is involved. We can point through out history where nations have set upon each other over race, religion or status. Later we find our selves in deep regret over how we have treated our fellow man over speculation and rumors. Today I greave for anyone who has lost someone in a tragedy. It is important how ever that justice is found not though media sensations but by real fact. Also that only who perpetrated the crime be the one who stands trial and be convicted. Not one group of people should have to stand trial for one persons senseless actions. For that reason I will not hold everyone who is not Autistic responsible for Joe Scarboughs stupid remarks and carelessness. After all only he should be held responsible for his actions.

      • Thank you. Replys written One handed while multitasking and by phone. Often may not come out well. But I hope that if anyone sees this will consider that the person who did the crime needs to be punished. The people who have been his victims deserve him to have a real psychiatric assessment. Not one done by some yahoo with a microphone and most likely no qualifications. They deserve better then this. They are grieving. These days anyone uses the word Autism to gain media attention weather it be good or bad. It’s a ratings cash grab statement.

  2. Given that JS’s son is on the autism spectrum (although according to wikipedia’s “personal life” section on the person, he views his son has a touch of autism called aspergers) — I wonder how JS’s attitude toward his child will change.

    • It sounds as though he thinks the shooter is Autistic BECAUSE of his experience with his son. This is not a man who has spent much time educating himself about Autism sadly. I wondered how his son must feel with a father who thinks he is neurologically more capable of going on a shooting rampage than other people.

  3. Your link to Paula Durbin-Westby’s post is a repeat of your link to Kassiane Sibley’s post, just so you know.

    Anyway, I wholeheartedly agree. And predicted this.

  4. *Giving you a cinematic slow-clap as the swooping major music indicative of my heartfelt approval swells along with the predicted but none the less satisfying applause of the tribe.*

  5. his comments ar wrong as he dsbt kno any abt us an wht we go thru evertydae we with autism haV IT hard enought trying tu live in a society tht seeks tu isolate us by stweriotyping us an nowe this -he owes us a bg aplogy fr the remarksa k s made abt us

  6. Sanni are you also Autismoe Ceto? I see you on FB if you are, and like what you have to say all the time and look forward to seeing you say it.

  7. So very very sad. It seems like the witch hunt has started early- I did think to myself” I wonder if they will bring up undiagnosed aspergers as a defence?” but the media have jumped onto it first. And none of this helps the victims and their family and friends.

    • Yes, it has left me feeling very sad and angry. This need to immediately turn away from the victims to speculate about the killer is something I find baffling. And to claim autism as a reason for the killers mindset even more baffling.

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