As most of you know, autism has directly affected my family in the following way: I have a son who is on the spectrum, it has cost me great sums of money to properly educate and treat him, it has caused a divide in my relationship with some family members, I have spent countless hours in deep thought about how I am going to care for him as I get older, I have worried over his mental well being, I have not had a serious boyfriend in over 10 years because some people don't understand autism, I have kept myself from getting involved with men because I am worried they won't understand me, I have been afraid of being resented for my son's autism, I worry that something bad will happen to my son when I'm not with him and I am worried that other people, kids or adults, will be able to influence him to do things he doesn't understand that are either against the law or cruel to him or others. Those are the bad parts. Autism has positively affected me in the following ways: He's a sweet kid! He is funny, a real hoot. He has shown me that mean people and bad things CAN be tuned out and forgotten. He has shown me unconditional love and forgiveness, even when I've not been very nice to him at all. He has shown me that he can enjoy the simple things and that being a homebody is a good thing for him. He has given me perspective on what's truly important (BOTH of my children have). I would die for him if I had to (for BOTH of my kids).
As a parent of a teen boy on the spectrum, I have had some very difficult and trying times with Ross. Some have been damn hard, especially having to do it alone. Yes, I have lost my temper - too many times - and he can make me angrier than anyone else. But he's my son. I love him. I want to do everything I can for him. In his earlier years, it was a real battle to get him to reign in the bad behavior. For a while Applied Behavior Analysis did pretty well for him, but only at school. The typical, every day kid that is also Ross didn't do for me what he did for his teachers, LOL, but I was ok with that as long as he was being good at school. Ross hates the word "no" and the phrase "you can't do that." But he adjusted well and thrived.
Now he's in middle school and it's a whole 'nother ball game. This is the time I wish his father would make himself more available but I know that won't happen any time soon. The boy is changing both physically and mentally. He's getting strong, real strong. He's much taller than I am and now he's getting much braver than he used to be. I'm not sure how one of his tantrums are going to end in the near future. I do worry he will take his anger out on me with his fists. Even though he is a sweet child and would never hurt another person, I worry that one day he quite possibly could. With autism, a child has no control over his/her impulses. There is no filter. They cannot stop themselves from doing something that you and I can. Let's say I was having a heated argument with another person and they made me so mad I just wanted to punch them. I have the ability to reason with myself that if I do that, there will be consequences. So I think about those consequences and how it would ultimately affect my life. Or I think about the fact that even though I want to smack them, I don't because it's just wrong to do it. Kids with autism can't stop themselves. They have an impulse to do something and they just do it. It's a learned behavior to stop and think about what might happen and it's a behavior that takes years to master, sometimes decades. Some won't take as long as others to catch on but some never do. Besides, at that age, you never know what a flood of testosterone is going to make a kid do. Especially one that has no impulse control. Lately, when he's having a tantrum he tends to start hitting and kicking the walls. This is a new development. So is the fact that his personality is changing from kid to bug guy. He's testing the waters. Talking back. Getting defiant. "So what if I do it anyway? What are YOU going to do about it?", I hear him saying to me. Frustration builds but what can I do? His medicines are only half of what they want to prescribe because I don't want him to be drugged all the time. Too many meds makes him a zombie and they make him feel bad. At the dosage he's on, he's still sort of manageable but he has his wonderful sense of humor and his zest for life and being a mischievious little imp! It has been a long, long road with my son and probably a much longer road lies ahead until he's at least 17. Sometimes he jokes about very inappropriate things and sometimes he jokes about very scary things. Things that make me worry about him or what kind of person he will grow up to be. I don't want him to be misunderstood whichever way he goes.
The link above is about Adam Lanza's father picking up his son's body so he can give him a proper burial. Only he can't give a proper burial because he can't tell anyone where his son will be buried. The grave would be overrun with vandals and other freaks that want to tear up his son's final resting place. I'm writing this because people need to understand what we, as parents, go through with kids like ours. This man has lived a very difficult life with his son. It's hard to deal with autism, even when it's mild like Asperger's. It's not a typical upbringing. It comes with a lot of heartache, frustration, anger and the inability to understand why this happened to this child. People need to understand that Mr. Lanza has been through enough and needs to bury his son and needs this closure to a very difficult chapter in his life. The school kids and staff and their families have been affected terribly and they should rightfully want justice but Mr. Lanza has also paid an unbearable price. The ultimate price - the loss of his son, his little man...his baby. Mr. Lanza had to lose his son twice. First when he developed autism and second when he killed himself.
My hope is that people will have enough respect for Mr. Lanza to give him some peace and let him bury his son without any fear of retaliation. Adam was a deeply troubled Aspie. His impulse switch wasn't on, probably barely existed. But leave the father alone. He deserves to mourn in peace and try to put his life back together the best that he can. Don't you think he's been through enough? Can you put yourself in his shoes just for a moment and let it sink in what it must be like to have had a child like Adam and go through all they went through during his earlier years and to one day turn on the TV to see the horror that was caused by his son? I see so many hateful comments from people that have absolutely NO idea of what they're talking about when they talk about this kid and his parents and his upbringing. It's all speculation by the media. A crazy, whacked out media that will use this opportunity to talk about gun control. This isn't about guns, it's about a boy that had a temper tantrum and couldn't control himself or understand the consequences of his actions and about his mental illness along with his autism. That combination is a very dangerous one.
As a mom with a wonderful, beautiful son with autism, I have to put myself in those shoes. We are one of the lucky ones. Ross isn't emotionally disturbed and he's not bi-polar and he's not on a bunch of different anti-psychotics. He just has a hard time making his way in the world. I sometimes wonder if I had the same challenges if I would just snap because of the difficulty I would have navigating these crazy times. What Adam did was wrong and horrible and I am not trying to excuse what he did. Adam is gone. He can't hurt anyone again - this post is to get people to think about Mr. Lanza and what he has to live with now. Hopefully, everyone will cut this man just a little slack and leave him alone, in peace, with his son.