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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

When Autists Become Monsters

From Salon in March of 2009:
The monster inside my son

For years I thought of his autism as beautiful and mysterious. But when he turned unspeakably violent, I had to question everything I knew.


On Feb. 14 I awaken to this headline: “Professor Beaten to Death by Autistic Son.”

I scan the story while standing, my coffee forgotten. Trudy Steuernagel, a faculty member in political science at Kent State, has been murdered and her 18-year-old son, Sky, has been arrested and charged with the crime, though he is profoundly disabled and can neither speak nor understand. Sky, who likes cartoons and chicken nuggets, apparently lost control and beat his mother into a coma. He was sitting in jail when she died.

This happens to be two days after my older son’s 21st birthday, which we marked behind two sets of locked steel doors. I’m exhausted and hopeless and vaguely hung over because Andrew, who has autism, also has evolved from sweet, dreamy boy to something like a golem: bitter, rampaging, full of rage. It happened no matter how fiercely I loved him or how many therapies I employed.

Now, reading about this Ohio mother, there is a moment of slithering nausea and panic followed immediately by a sense of guilty relief.

I am not alone.

- – - – - – - – - – - -

Andrew started life as a mostly typical child. But at 3 and a half he became remote and perseverative, sitting in a corner and staring at his own splayed hand. Eventually he was diagnosed with high-functioning autism, a label that seemed to explain everything from his calendar memory and social isolation to his normal IQ....
Read the entire essay HERE.  Relate the contents of the essay to Adam Lanza, who according to the information to date, had a form of autism.

It is not politically correct to criticize the disabled.

But sometimes disability is mental illness. Dangerous and deadly mental illness, which resulted in the horror inside the walls of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14, 2012.

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