Psychology. Education. Advocacy. Research.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sandy Hook Elementary: The Face of Autism?

The manipulative strategies imposed by those that are aware of the fleeting faculties of the human mind are very seasoned at what they do. There will never be a time when drama isn't king within our media. "The people want something, so we give it to them". That's the power behind the various faces of reality presented by some media sources.

Currently, the face of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is being implicated as a potential reason for the unthinkable acts of nightmare-type violence that occurred on December 14, 2012. These acts of violence stole the lives of 20 innocent children and seven school staff members. These acts were so well planned out that the most experienced experts in our nation are having difficulties finding evidence to answer the loudest & most resounding question bouncing off the minds of the people. WHY did this happen?

The coward that committed these epic acts of pure evil had an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) called Asperger's Syndrome. Interestingly, the limited amount of information we have on this cancerous individual creates a very narrow picture of his life. However, out of that limited information, ASD seems like the best answer to the resounding question of why. This is understandable knowing and feeling the heart-stabbing pain of the parents and family members that lost their loved ones. The anger that furiously screams for justice over top of the yellow-bellied body of the killer. WHY?

Individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may have social impairments, communication & speech delays, and atypical behavioral expressions. These impairments, deficits, and expressions are due to neuro-developmental components of their brain cortex that function differently than the typical person. A neuro-developmental disorder is not a mental illness, although some individuals with ASD may suffer from comorbid mental conditions (e.g., depression & obsessive-compulsive disorder). Aggression is also an area of concern for many parents and caregivers of individuals with an ASD. However, aggression is typically reactionary to an inability to effectively communicate, heightened environmental stimulation, or being abused. Understanding the feelings of others is another criterion used to diagnose a child with ASD. This is typically an issue during the infant years, although there are some individuals that keep this as they age. However, it is no more prevalent than the typical individual that lacks empathy. The most effective evidence-based treatment for ASD is applied behavioral analysis (ABA) beginning at an early age. This intervention is used to increase useful behaviors and decrease problematic behaviors. Many individuals with ASD also receive speech therapy and occupational therapy. Mental health medications are not typically used to treat ASD symptoms. I would like to highlight the fact that neuro-developmental disorders are not the same as mental illnesses.

The day after 14 December 2012, my husband asked me to watch a documentary on the 1997 North Hollywood Bank Robbery - Shooting Rampage. As I watched, I literally felt as if I were watching a movie. I could not believe these men were using illegally modified fully automatic guns, with high capacity drum magazines and ammunition capable of penetrating police body armor, as if they were playing a video game. I was so thankful no one was killed (except the shooters). Later we did a Wikipedia search on this shooting rampage only to find out that these men had been picked up four years earlier with a trunk load of guns, ammo, and everything one needs to kill a mass of people. Interestingly, these men were released from jail after 100 days and given back most of their property. Now we, the readers, were privy to a short & limited background on these two individuals, but there was clearly a lot of "history" missing. This history may have given us a reason as to why these men "went out" as they did.

What history do we have on this current mass murderer? Was he on medications? Was he also diagnosed with mental or medical conditions?

The scenes of the DC Sniper, Aurora, Columbine, Virginia Tech and another recent senseless shooting rampage will always be fresh in the minds of the reigning generation. What do all of these mass murderers have in common besides their preferred choice in weaponry? Perhaps we need to press the experts to assist us in answering that question instead of using the face of autism as the answer. Especially knowing these other mass murderers were not diagnosed with ASD.

Related article:
What Drives Suicide Mass Killers

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sandy Hook Elementary: Birth from Death

At the core of our existential being is not a need for gifts, medical miracles, friends, or more money. At our core lies a numbing need for answers. Not answers to questions relating to LIFE, no, no, no. The answers we seek mostly relate to DEATH, and all that is "birth" from it.

Friday, December 14, 2012 created a reviving shock in the frozen hearts & minds of individuals around the world.  The minds of people began to seek information, knowing from the spirit that binds us all together, another expression of imbalance has once again brought us back to a familiar place...reality. That place we run from everyday, knowing one day we will return.

As a result of what occured on this day, there is a collective shiver in the spirit of man. Whether it is because the children & staff were taken away too soon or because of the families they left behind, the pain attached to this collective event worked to bind us all spiritually & emotionally. The normal "distractions" of politics in the form of gun control, our attempt to profile what a murderer looks like, and the heartless individuals who financially capitalize from this, WILL NOT take away how this horrific happening has emotionally charged the hearts of people. We all have questions. We all want answers.

The anger & pain we feel is normal. The emotions disallowing us to think are for a reason. The feelings of helplessness are real. There is nothing in the world that allows us to completely escape these. They are apart of the DNA of existence.

It was two years ago when I first experienced real understanding of the concept "birth from death". Admittedly, I have been conditioned by the religious cultures of our time. So my knowledge of this concept had no real foundation outside of what I had been told. It was not until I began to see the LIFE of all mankind as one LIFE, that I began to realize when something happens to one, it happens to us all. The deaths that occurred on December 14, 2012 have invoked LIFE into the spirit of man. It is a LIFE buried deeper than the life brought forth by the so-called Christmas spirit. Nothing binds us more than death.

As we all fight within to grab some type of control over our emotions and our questions, please take some time to recognize yourself within the spirit of man as one that continues to live for those that have died.

NOTE: If you are having a difficult time coping with what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary, please seek assistance. Find someone that will listen, and talk to them about how you feel. If you need some assistance finding a mental health professional, I would recommend asking a friend who may suggest one, asking your primary medical doctor, or doing an internet search within your local area. If you choose to seek after a mental health professional, please use the first meeting to get to know the individual before sharing any personal information.

Here are a few links that may assist you:
Finding a Psychologist
Managing Your Distress in the Aftermath of a Shooting
Helping Your Children Manage Distress in the Aftermath of a Shooting