Thursday, March 21, 2013

What Now?

I really have no words about the Connecticut tragedy. It's affected me more than I would ever have anticipated. I cried numerous times and as I'm sure many other parents did, had to soul search to find the right words to discuss it with my children. I'm not sure if my words were correct, but I'm a firm believer in being as honest as I can with my boys while censoring what their fragile minds just are not ready to comprehend. 

 As a woman who has been a social worker for most of her life (mainly working with families with children diagnosed with special needs ie Autosm spectrum disorders, RAD, ADHD) this tragedy scares me on a different level than the average person.

 With the latest reports of the shooter possibly having Aspbergers, beyond frightened of what this news will bring to the autism community. Any type of mental health/neuro-biological disorders carries such a stigma. We (being the general population) hide and are ashamed when it hits home whether that be family or friends. We don't talk about it. We don't educate ourselves or others. And that's scary in and of itself.

 I myself believe there are three camps when it comes to autism spectrum disorders. The first are those that automatically think of Rainman and believe in the idiot savant aspect. Then there are those that believe they're violent, need to be medicated, and/or need to be put in group homes because they're not "allowed" to be around the mainstream public. And lastly, the camp that is educated because they deal with it directly in some way, shape or form.

 As a general rule, the public associates and compares and that ideology leads them, which is a basis of where stereotypes come from. We ALL do it, just on different measuring scales. An elderly man is rude at the store, elderly become crotchety farts. A teenager doesn't hold the door for a mother with three kids, all teenagers become jackasses. A young man with Aspbergers kills 26 children, all children and adults with autism become a danger to society.

 I'm also a mommy to two boys with ADHD, both with completely different personalities. My oldest is a loner. He's a mama's boy. He's much prefer hanging out with adults or younger children. He either craves the adult and more intelligent interaction or he digs helping and teaching the younger crowd. He has a difficult time making friends. He's just not a social child preferring to write, draw, or build. My youngest is a completely different animal. He's social and his goal is to make everyone his friend. I worry about both of them on completely different levels.

 In talking to my children about this, the biggest thing I felt I needed to stress to them was that it was ok to feel whatever it was they needed to feel, not just about this but with anything life may throw at them. Feel those feelings so you can learn to deal with them appropriately. Talk to someone. I told them that no matter the subject, they can always talk to me. They knew that already because I constantly tell them so. But it felt as though I needed an addendum. Talk to SOMEONE. If it can't be me, then each other, their daddy, their grandparents, just someone. Don't let any pain build up until there's no outlet but anger and/or violence. Just talk to someone.

 I don't know why what happened, happened. I don't understand it. Maybe it's not my job to understand. Maybe my job is to take care of those I love and educate willing persons with what I know about special needs. I just don't know. What I do know is that my prayers are full for those parents and families with empty beds and broken hearts.

XO Dawn Wendy

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