A Plea

Perhaps you heard that Adam Lanza may have been autistic or you read the piece making the rounds by the mother of a violent, speculatively autistic, mentally ill son and your brain is beginning to connect autism with lack of empathy and violence. If so, I would beg you to read this short, insightful, piece by Emily Willingham. There is no tendency towards violent crime in autistic people. Sadly, they are more likely to be the victims of violent crimes. But not to commit them. The question of empathy as it relates to autism is a complicated one that I’m bad at explaining (and bad at understanding). Emily can explain it to you better than I, but the important thing to know is that it does not mean that people on the spectrum don’t empathize with others. Autistic people aren’t any more prone to violence than the rest of us, though they may be more prone to unhappiness because their world is full of extra challenges. It breaks my heart to think that this community that I love, which has been working so hard to be less misunderstood, might be seen in an ugly light because of one person’s heinous actions and the irresponsible media soundbites that wormed their way into our heads in the aftermath.  As the mom of an autistic kid, I take this really seriously.  So please read up and if you want to read more or have unanswered questions, I recommend consulting the folks of A Thinking Person’s Guide To Autism.  TPGA is a community of advocates, writer and scientists, both autistic and neurotypical, who can help steer you in the right direction.
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