Friday, December 21, 2012

Insanity! Pure Insanity!

A horrific incident happened last week at the Sandy Hooks elementary school. I do not need to recount what happened here. It is beyond horrible. You all know what occurred.

Like many people, I tried to make sense out of what happened. "How could anyone do anything so vile?" I repeatedly asked myself. I had a hard time wrapping my mind around it. Now, a week later, I still have a hard time wrapping my head around it. It just doesn't make sense.

Many people feel a need to point the finger at a cause. If we can only figure out why this horrible event occurred, we can fix the problem and it won't happen again. This is a very natural and rational approach. The problem is, however, that the answer can be hard to determine and can be quite complex.

Nevertheless, the media and others come to conclusions that may be inaccurate and flat-out ignorant. What can happen is a witch-hunt against a group that is misguided and hurtful.

After some people described the killer as bright but withdrawn, many media outlets began speculating about whether the killer had Asperger's. This quickly turned into an assumption that he did have Asperger's and that was the cause of the massacre.

I kept hoping for this speculation to just go away. But it's hasn't. On Facebook, I've seen groups formed called, "Stop Asperger's: For every 50 Likes, a Child with Asperger's Will Be Killed." Facebook took that page down (thankfully). A Facebook friend reported that a local television news station did a story on Asperger's and obsessions, then commented on how the Sandy Hooks shooter was obsessed with guns. Ahem.

Today, a blogger who has a child with autism reported that she received a private email stating that if she didn't stop her child's Asperger's (her child doesn't have Asperger's specifically), she is a negligent mother.

To clear up a misconception: having Asperger's does not make a person into a crazed killer. One has absolutely nothing to do with the other. Guess what? Sociopaths and psychopaths can be bright and withdrawn as well also. That is where the similarities end.

The following is from a Yahoo article.

Characteristics of a sociopath are as followed :
1. Sociopaths are very charming.
2. Sociopaths can be extremely manipulative and will try to con you whenever possible.
3. Sociopaths feel that they are entitled to everything.
4. Sociopaths will lie continuously to get what they want. They can even sometimes manipulate a lie detector.
5. Sociopaths have no remorse, shame or guilt.
6. Sociopaths will show love and happiness only when it serves their purpose. None of the feelings are genuine.
7. Sociopaths have no room for love in their life.
8. Sociopaths need to have excitement in their lives or live on the edge.
9. Sociopaths have lack of empathy when their victims suffer pain that they have caused.
10. Sociopaths believe that they are all mightier than G_d, there is no concern on how their behavior impacts others.
11. Sociopaths usually have a long history of juvenile delinquency as well as behavior problems.
12. Sociopaths will never take blame for anything they have done to anyone no matter if it is family or friend.
13. Sociopaths have many sexual partners and tend to act out many sexual acts.
14. Sociopaths rarely stay in one place for a long time (home/work).
15. Sociopaths will change themselves if they know it will keep them from being found out.

Characteristics of a psychopath are as followed:
1. Psychopaths use superficial charm to lure their victims.
2. Psychopaths are extremely self-centered.
3. Psychopaths must always do something to keep themselves from boredom.
4. Psychopaths are very deceptive and tend to lie continuously.
5. Psychopaths show no remorse of guilt towards their victims.
6. Psychopaths are very predatory and usually will live off other people.
7. Psychopaths have many sexual partners in their lifetime.
8. Psychopaths are very impulsive with their lifestyle.
9. Psychopaths are always blaming other people for their actions.
10. Psychopaths never have a realistic view of their lives. (king of the world or from another planet)
11. Psychopaths always want psychological gratification in sexual and criminal activities.
12. Psychopaths tend to try suicide, rarely succeeding.

There is very little overlap between these characteristics and those of a person with Asperger's (see my list of traits here). One major difference is that people with Asperger's are not manipulators. What you see is what you get with them. They also tend to be big rule followers and don't like to do things that are illegal. Also, people with Asperger's are capable of empathy and love. In the case of my daughter, empathy didn't come naturally, but she was able to learn to be empathetic. A sociopath can never learn this.

This is a plea for the media and others to stop describing maniacal killers as being autistic or having Asperger's (I believe the Aurora movie theater shooting had the same speculation). They are entirely different things and should not be lumped together.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Poems by a Guest Poet

My blog is being visited today by Scott Lentine. Scott is a 25 year old with high-functioning autism (PDD-NOS/Asperberger's) from Billerica, Massachusetts, outside of Boston. He is a summer resident of Fieldston Beach, Marshfield, south of Boston. He graduated from Merrimack College magna cum laude with a Bachelor's Degree in Religious Studies with a Biology minor.

Scott's poetry has been published in many other, better-established blogs such as Claire LaZebnik's, Look Me in the Eye, Living on the Spectrum, Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid, Love that Max, Autism Wonderland, and A Diary of Mom, among many others.

 I hope you enjoy his poetry as much as I do. They're insightful and moving.  

Can’t You See

Can’t you see
I just want to have a friend
Can’t you see
I need the same connections in the end

Can’t you see
I want a good job
Can’t you see
I need to have stability and dependence and part of the general mob

Can’t you see
I want to be independent on my own
Can’t you see
I want to be able to have my own home

Can’t you see
I want the same things as everyone else
Can’t you see
I want to be appreciated for myself  

The Ode to the Autistic Man

Try to understand the challenges that I face
I would like to be accepted as a human in all places
Where I will end up in life I don’t know
But I hope to be successful wherever I go
I would like to expand my social skills in life
Making new friends would be very nice

Stand proud for the autistic man
For he will find a new fan
I hope to overcome the odds I face today
Increased acceptance will lead me to a brighter day

By the age of 20, I will have made tremendous strides
I know in the future, life will continue to be an interesting ride
I have made new friends by the year
I will be given tremendous respect by my family and peers
I hope to get noted for bringing the issue of autism to the common man
So that autistic people can be accepted in this great land

Stand proud for the autistic man
For he will find a new fan
I hope to overcome the odds I face today
Increased acceptance will lead me to a brighter day  

Just a Normal Day

Never knowing what to say
Never knowing what to do
Always looking for clues
Just a normal day

Feeling unsure
Totally perplexed with everyday life
Always on edge never certain
I wish I could lift this curtain
Needing to constantly satisfy my need for information
Always online searching for new revelations
Going from site to site
Obtaining new insights every night

Trying to connect with people my age
Attempting to reveal my unique vision
But ending up alone and unengaged
Feeling like my needs a total revision
Just a normal day