I’m sure by now most of you have heard of the ignorant, scalding comments made by Joe Scarborough of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”. Hopefully you have also heard about and signed the petition to get him to retract his statement (which he has yet to even appologize for). If not, please look here for more information: http://www.change.org/petitions/joe-scarborough-msnbc-retract-your-statements-about-autism-and-the-colorado-shooting
Of course, as a blogger about Autism, it is just not possible for me to not have a response to this incredibly damaging statement. The worst thing to me is that this comment came not only from a journalist, but one who is also the PARENT of a CHILD ON THE SPECTRUM. That seemingly gives some credibility to his statement that being a journalist alone would not provide. But please know that being a parent of a child with a disability does not make you by any means an expert on that disability. Hopefully the Autism community is strong enough and loud enough to flood out Mr. Scarborough’s incredibly incorrect comments, or I am afraid that fear of those on the spectrum will spread like wildfire. It has already begun, in fact. In this story, one successful woman who happens to be on the spectrum relates how ignorace of Austims has already spread from Joe through her employees: http://www.mediaite.com/tv/scarborough-tissue-player-tells-coach-autistic-people-grow-up-to-be-mass-murderers/
And ther’s this story which provides wonderful FACTS and information:
First of all, he has no way of knowing anything about what caused James Holmes to tragically kill and injure those people. Certainly there is something wrong, quite possibly some sort of mental illness. I can’t imagine someone who was mentally well doing such a thing, but I wouldn’t guess as to any diagnosis or motive, because of course I don’t know. Neither does Joe Scarborough. Some people have said he was a bit of a loner, that does not even give any evidence that he may be on the spectrum, let alone lead to a reason he may have done what he did. I can be a bit of a loner. I just don’t like to talk a lot and honsetly, I don’t have the world’s best social skills, myself. Small talk is difficult for me and I’m always afraid of sounding stupid. However, I am not on the spectrum (it takes a lot more than just being a loner to make you Autistic, and lots and lots of testing to diagnose). I am also not going out to kill anyone. In fact, I don’t even want to carry pepper spray. I wouldn’t hurt a fly (a spider or mosquitoe, yes, but not a fly). And he points to lack of support system but he doesn’t know that, either. Most people without a support system do not kill people; some with the world’s best parents do. No one really knows what causes most tragedies such as the one in Aurora. I don’t know how in the worl Mr. Scarborough thinks he is more intelligent and qualified than teams of psychologists and other professionals to make such comments.
Secondly, there are people all along the Autism scale, and I have to tell you that they are just like everyone else. They have disabilities, difficulties to overcome, but someone with Autism is not different than someone with another disability. They are not more likely to perpetuate violence, in fact they are more likely to be victims of violence themselves, often bullied and victims of hate crimes already. Now that these revolting comments have been aired across the nation, if they are at all fueled, they will provide terrible, scarring consequences. Instead of ending violence as we should be concentrating on after such an awful, uncomprehendible act, Joe Scarborough may instead have added fuel to the fire of confusion and misunderstanding about Autism.
I pray we do not see children and adults on the spectrum becoming more frequent victims of bullying, violence, hate crimes and discrimination. I pray that our country will find peace and understanding and knowledge of the FACTS. If you do not personally know someone with Autism, I encourage you to seek out such an experience. In fact, you may know someone with Autism, and not realize it. Unfortunately being Autistic these days is as stigmatized (if not more so) than being gay. Many autistic adults remain “in the closet” for fear of negative consequences because of all of the misunderstanding and false information. You can also educate yourself. Don’t believe everything you read online or hear on the news. Check out reliable websites such as Autism Speaks: http://www.autismspeaks.org/. Don’t let this one ignorant speech made by one journalist on TV cause any more hurt and misuderstanding that already exists. Please, sign the petition and educate yourself. And remember, every person with Autism is different, and every one of them is a PERSON, just trying to make it through just like the rest of us.