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December 27, 2012


Most Dog Toy Attacks Are By A Friend or Family Member

I posted this on my care givers’ blog this morning. There’s been mumbling about Adam Lanza, the Connecticut mass murderer, having “an autism like mental illness.”

We had an incident years ago in which our autistic kid became frustrated because a computer froze up and I couldn’t do anything to fix it. He grabbed a rope dog toy off the floor and started beating me with it. It is an awful memory, but I hope you can see that he was not out of touch with reality – not “mentally ill.” He was frustrated, there was a clear reason for it, but his response was wrong (to say the least).

Yes, he lacked empathy and impulse control. So do lots of “normal” people. Lots of “normal” kids have tantrums; lots of boyfriends don’t pick up on the hurt feelings of girlfriends; lots of girls keep throwing themselves at the same loser guys because their emotions get wacky if they “don’t have a man.” But autistic people, immature kids, dense guys and dumb girls aren’t wandering the streets, looking for rope toys with which to beat passing strangers that they perceive as demons. Mishandling reality is not the same as detaching from it.

Autistic people require lots of coaching, structured therapeutic and learning activities, and sometimes medications. Less seriously, bratty “normal” kids can get a swat on the butt and/or denied the toy of their craving. Insensitive guys can get dumped; serially used girls can get a clue. Sure, some cases are harder than others, and there are community implications of some behaviors and needs. But lumping them all under “mental illness” is a mistake.

There are dangerous mentally ill people out and about, and I do believe that society needs to look at taking custody of them.  There are some folks who are just plain dangerous, the debate about mental illness be hanged.  Keeping some of them locked away would impact the overall crime rate.  Those are discussions far from the realities of autism.
 


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