Mr. Andrew Solomon, author of “Far From the Tree,” wrote an Op-Ed in the NY Times today titled “Myth of the Autistic Shooter.” His message is clear, there is no link between autism and murder.
Now I have a confession to make.
Years ago, when Sebastian was very small, I heard a story on the radio about a son stabbing his mother to death. It was reported that the child was autistic. I didn’t bother to research the story, or the credibility of the information. I did however, worry. I worried that one day I would wake up in the middle of the night to find my sweet son standing over me with a knife.
That is the power of the media.
Anyone who knows my son, knows how strong his sense of empathy is. Recently, his art teacher told me about a hectic moment in class. Sensing she was overwhelmed, Sebastian approached her to ask, “Are you ok?”
Sebastian likes everyone around him to be ok, because that makes his world seem safe. He, like all of us, wants to feel safe.
Mr. Solomon spoke about a now defunct Facebook group called “Families against Autistic Shooters.” They concluded that all recent shooters lack “empathy and compassion due to Autism!” They defined autistic children as “cold, calculating killing machines with no regard for human life!”
And so I’ll say this again for all of us. So that every mother who’s listened to these stories and looked at their children sideways can hear it. There is no link between autism and murder.
I don’t fear that Sebastian will turn into a violent human being. But I do worry about how the world will treat him.