Autism Is Not a Crime

Words are powerful things. Each word has a meaning that, when combined with other words, present an idea or statement that can help or hurt society. Recently, there has been another shooting and part of the speculation/fact is that the perpetrator was on the spectrum.

The problem with the speculation/fact is that it creates the idea of one equals all: because (assuming he did) he was on the spectrum, everyone else who is (like me) will behave exactly like him. This is a ridiculous and hurtful fallacy.

The saying goes that if you’ve met one person on the spectrum, you’ve met one person on the spectrum. If you met me and my brother in person (highly unlikely), you would notice that even though we were both diagnosed somewhere along the spectrum, we are two different people. We’ve had our share of successes and failures; after all, nobody’s perfect.

What I’m reading about this tragedy creates the image that ASD is cause for alarm, reaching levels of the Salem Witch Trials with equivalent “desired” punishment. NO. Like the title states, autism is not a crime. If that were the case, my brother would be serving a five-year sentence for having a meltdown in Wal-Mart because the lights drive him crazy. Screaming in church? Tack on another five. Inappropriate laughter? Ten years plus community service. Me? My sentence would be longer, probably life.

Yes, that’s an exaggeration but it’s not like living with it is easy. Each day is a challenge. I have opportunities to act on different behaviors but once I’ve made my choice, I cannot change it. There are chances to seek reconciliation and make amends if my past choices resulted in offense. They are always there; whether or not someone takes that chance is up to them.

What happened there was wrong, I won’t deny that. It’s the idea that ASD=violence that is speculated and reported as a definite fact that troubles me. Jumping to conclusions will only lead to broken feelings.


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