Monday, January 7, 2013

The Sandy Hook Shooting and Adam Lanza’s Autism, by Alec Frazier

Hello all. As an autistic advocate, one of my goals is to foster discussion on key issues. What follows is a Facebook post I made, and the discussion that ensued. A little bit of detail on my points of view, the posters/likers, and my connection to them follows.

Yes, Adam Lanza had autism. But before you degrade my kind--people with autism--consider this: Isaac Newton, Andy Warhol, Hans Christian Andersen, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Michelangelo, Stanley Kubrick, Thomas Jefferson, and many more, all had autism. Without autism, there would be no Theories of Evolution or Relativity. Without autism, there would be no Declaration of Independence or Little Mermaid. Without autism, there would be no Law of Gravity or cell phones or Pieta or Dr. Strangelove or much, much, more. Think of that. — with Anthony Mancini and 19 others.
8Like ·  ·  · Tag Friends
  • Ross Haarstad do we even know for sure AL had autism (besides the fact that it would NOT lead him to mass murder)
  • Joyce Carman Lovelace Our minister yesterday debunked the idea that autism/aspbergers was a cause of this tragedy.
  • Quentin Potter @ Ross, Apparently his brother said so, but yes, it did not cause the mass murder.
  • Alec Frazier An anonymous official also said so, Ross.
  • Ross Haarstad the part of the phrase I should emphasize is "for sure". lots of stuff is being said and then retracted. early reports said his mother worked at the school.
  • Betti Gefecht That sucks... I hope people don't get the wrong ideas again. I shared and commented your status, Alec.
  • John Anderton The REAL cause of the tragedy was the Mom bringing military weapons into her home and exposing the boy to that culture... From what I'm reading SHE was a real nutjob... end-of-the-world survivalist type.
  • Kaaren Remley Lol! I don't think it's the autism that's troubling me
  • Meredith Davidson-King couldn't have said it better!
  • Catarina Wiggins I was so livid when I was reading people's status saying people with autism are dangerous. Even had one person say to me that I better watch Meghan because she is a genious and she might be "capable" of something like this. So mad.
  • Cindy Tabor I've worked with adults that were autistic, enjoyed every minute of it. I've met some very beautiful and handsome children that are autistic. People who own weapons need to safeguard these firearms and ammo. There's far more to this massacre than the young man having autism. We may never find out the truth however putting that "label" out there is so wrong in so many ways!!!!
  • Christopher Stephen Jenks One of the things about this whole business that REALLY disturbs me is that people are focusing on mental illness or autism as if either of them had anything to do with Lanza's actions. I live and work with men who carry diagnoses of depression, bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia or personality disorder. There is nothing -- I repeat NOTHING -- about their illnesses or disorders that make them more prone to violence than anybody else. Some of the men have violent pasts, but that's always been because they have been in situations where the only way to survive was to be violent, such as in prison, and often they were in these situations because they could not get the support -- personal and professional -- that they needed. Instead they were looked at as criminals. It's the sociopaths who do this sort of thing, not the mentally ill, and many sociopaths are running major corporations and making tons of money.
  • Alec Frazier While I agree with the article, parents of the autistic are not the best advocates for the autistic. AUTISTIC PEOPLE ARE THEIR OWN BEST ADVOCATES. Hear what we have to say, here:
    ASAN Statement on Media Reports Regarding Newtown, CT Shooting
  • Betti Gefecht I know, Alec. But seriously, cut that mom some slack... I adore how lovingly and thoughtfully she describes her son and draws the line to her fear that people will blame the killer's alleged autism for his crime.
  • Alec Frazier My point is that Slate should get an autistic person to write these.
  • Alec Frazier Betti, I don't doubt that the mom makes good points or loves her kid, but remember that no one knows us better than one of us.
  • Quentin Potter I agree Alec, I think its good these people are writing them on their blogs but I wish big magazines and such would pick up autistic people's articles rather than allistic parents of autistic people
  • Marilyn Pifer Adam Lanza was also a white male, but I'm not going to shrink in fear from every white male I encounter.
  • Betti Gefecht How could I ever forget, Alec, when you're constantly reminding me?  LOL. 
    You know I adore and admire you for what you do and achieve for the autistic 'community, your work.  Still I think, as long as non-autistic people do NOT basically think they know BETTER than people with autism themselves, I'd rather have them speak up too instead of excluding their opinions or their ways of advocating. 
    I'm NOT saying that you're doing that... but you should pay a little attention, so you won't come across like your're discriminating non-autistic people in this cause. 
    I fully support the idea of 'No policy about us without us'. And I know, many parents are trying to 'cure' their kids' 'condition' rather than be accepting and supportive. Even though they're meaning well, some of them actually do more harm than they'll ever understand.
    But not everyone's intention is patronizing autistic persons, or denying their ability to speak for themselves. 
    And it's a good thing - no matter what 'diversities' we're thinking of... different colors, different bodies, different minds, different neurological bases - if outside people make up their minds and speak in your favor. Because it reminds the narrow-minded that you (plural you) exist and that you are not a weird, closed community that is no one's concern and whose ideas just have a value among yourselves.
    You know what I mean?
    In case I have pissed you off now, it's probably a language/translation issue more than anything else. I love you, and these are just my 2 cts, a view from 'outside'.
    :o) <---- you may pinch a little harder than usual if you must... 
  • Alec Frazier You do make several valid points, hold still...

  • Alec Frazier You see, folks, I honk the "o"s in Betti's ":o)"s.
  • Betti Gefecht  YAY!!!! In my book, you are a miracle man,Alec ! Still can't wait to hug you next year 
  • Quentin Potter Betti, I think there's a difference between speaking their mind and putting their voices above ours. I'm not sure that's necessarily the person who wrote the slate article's fault, but it still is frustrating. They get media coverage, Liza Long gets a media tour and maybe a book deal, and what do we get? A lot of stigma and not a lot of people listening. 
  • Betti Gefecht Point taken. I understand, Quentin Potter, and I'm not happy about the way things are, either. Epic frustration here, and rightfully so.
    But It's mostly not the non-autistic people themselves who raise their voices above yours... it's the media, first of all - when people mostly just want to give their voice _alongside_ you. That's why ASAN is so important, among other things... going out and reaching out to the media! 
    All I'm saying is, there is always the possibility of unknowingly falling into that trap of stigmatizing/discriminating others because they're simply neurotypical (they cannot help that either, right?)... or at least the trap of _looking_ like you're discriminating. That wouldn't be helpful.
    Also, I kind of speak out myself (no, I am not a mom of an autistic kid, nor do I have ever met a person with autism in the flesh). I just write a fiction where there is an autistic character involved, and I got so lucky to meet and become friends with Alec Frazier online through this.... and even more lucky, cuz he likes my writing, despite my unintentional hubris of writing in the POV of said autistic character.
    But I do not get a media tour or a book deal, I assure you 
    I guess you could say that I became kind of an autism advocacy ally by accident, when all I wanted was writing fiction. 
    I've been working as an artist all of my life... music, art, writing... and I deal extraordinarily well with critique, or even bashing my work. That's part of being an artist. So if a person with autism thinks my writing sucks, I'm fine with that. But if they kept telling me to stop writing about autism, or if they deny me the right to raise autism awareness through my writing (which surprisingly I do), just because I'm (allegedly) neurotypical... nope! Not ok!
    And sometimes, just sometimes, it starts to feel a wee bit like that, you know... 
    Tell me where I'm wrong, and nudge me into the right direction (thanks, Alec, for the occasional pokes), but don't silence me. That's all I'm asking.
  • Alec Frazier Speaking of which, you owe us a new chapter of Little Green and Easybella!
  • Betti Gefecht yeah... yeah.... *hangs head in shame* Well, this is something I can't argue about 
  • Donald Frazier @ Quentin, true that. The media have a tendency to unintentionally marginalize all sorts of people simply by selecting a point of view for a news story. Thus if you're writing about people with autism, for example, you adopt the perspective of somebody who's primarily interested in its impact on the 'normal' world of parents, teachers, policy-makers, etc.

    I have a World Book encyclopedia Yearbook for 1966. Fascinating document. There's a whole article on Negros, meant in earnest appreciation, that reports on blacks in that pivotal year with a tone of amazement from afar. "Wouldja look at the blacks, waaaaaay over there! You got jazzmen, actors, civil rights leaders, ministers, even authors and doctors and all what all. Get a load of alla the really cool shit /they/ are up to!" Emphasis mine.
  • Betti Gefecht Oh wow yes, them Negroes are people, too... go figure! They can do.... things!!!  Holy moly! *picture sarcasm font here*
  • Quentin Potter Hmm, I disagree, I think if your story gained popularity, it would be okay if autistic people resented you for writing about us and for the lack of autistic characters written by autistic people in the media. I'm not saying this means you should stop writing about autistic people, I personally don't mind, but I do understand the resentment. I don't really see the media, which is mostly dominated by non-autistic people as a separate entity but rather just a gear in the system that helps place non-autistic voices above autistic voices. It's makes sense for someone to somewhat resent the whole system, including the starting gear (which would be, in this case, the author). It's not the author's fault the piece gained popularity, but the non-autistic author is a part of the system. If that makes any sense.
  • Alec Frazier Quentin Potter, in fairness to Betti Gefecht, I consult with her on all matters autism-related.
  • Quentin Potter I wasn't trying to be rude or anything, sorry if it came off that way - I think it's perfectly okay that Betti is writing the book. I just mean I think it's okay for autistic people to be distrustful of allistic people writing about autism.
  • Betti Gefecht Quentin Potter, I know you're anything but rude, ok? Neither am I. We're just exchanging ideas and opinions, which is a darn cool thing in my book  So... if you're still up to it? 

    "I think if your story gained popularity, it would be okay if autistic people resented you for writing about us and for the lack of autistic characters written by autistic people in the media."

    First of, can we maybe agree that it would be UNDERSTANDABLE if autistic people resented me, instead of OKAY? LOL! 
    It just doesn't seem fair (=okay) to me if someone is resented for something they (can) do or have, simply because a certain system makes it hard for others to do or have the same when they (the resenters) feel much more entitled in this matter. 
    Understandable, hell yes, but not right. 
    Okay in the sense of resentment towards the lucky one being a natural human reaction maybe. But still not right.

    And ooh... let me play mean for a sec: It's smells like jealousy, doesn't it? 
    Ok, I'm kidding, but take it with a grain of salt.

    And this isn't even about autism. 

    Just for argument's sake... do you have any idea how many artists in the music biz resent pop star celebrities for getting all the media attention, the praise and everything, even though their music sucks? All those hard working, talented musicians and songwriters who write and play meaningful music in cellars and clubs, never even getting a record deal, while blonde chick with a minnie mouse voice is made into the next big thing by the media? 
    Oh, those poor souls do resent those plastic pop starlets for making it, because they feel that they deserve the success so much more themselves. I'm not ashamed to admit, I've been there myself a few decades ago. Hells, I was a REAL musician; those fabricated wannabe's were not! 

    And being really mean once again: I've come across some artists with disabilities during the years who were popular just because of their disabilities, and not because of their talent (or in some cases the actual lack of it). That didn't make me very happy either.

    But in the end of the day, it was neither logical nor 'okay' to resent them for being popular or successful. Like you said, it's not their fault. You even assumed they didn't ask for it. Sorry, but they did! Just like the ones who never get heard do. We all do. You do. I do. ASAN does. Everyone.
    And none of us has control over whom the system will grant that precious soapbox or not - unless you have gazillions of $$ and can buy it, LOL.

    Last mean thought to ponder for now: Autistic people aren't THAT special in their struggles to get heard. 


    Mkay, the comparison with the starving cellar musicians is flawed - autistic people do not choose to be autistic. But neither do gays, or diabetics, or the so descriptively before-mentioned 'Negroes', or women or... 

    Personally, I don't even make a difference between being born a certain way or choosing one. Everyone deserves to be free of stigma and to get heard – uhm... except for assholes, LOL. Assholes should shut the fuck up. 

    And last but not least, not every black man is a Miles Davis, as not every person with autism is a Temple Grandin. Would every black man become a popular music celeb, if all the white people would leave the music biz? Nope. Would every autistic person get a book deal and invitations to TV talk shows, if all the neurotypical people would mind 'their own business' and shut up? I don't think so.

    The lack of autistic people writing about autistic people in the media is not the fault of the non-autistic people doing so who are presented in the media. It's the fault of those running the medie, and to some extend the fault of those who keep consuming the mass media without second-guessing. 

    It sucks the way it is, no question. That's called unfairness. And I can live with autistic people resenting me in case my fic gains popularity - which it never will. And I'm okay with that, too.

    But in the unlikely case I would get published, you can bet I'd haveAlec Frazier write a hell of a prologue, LOL! 

    Jeez, I digressed.... sorry, it's 6 am here, I haven't slept and I'm obviously out of my mind 
    Alec, would you please tell Quentin that I'm not Always this nuts??? Thanks 
  • Quentin Potter I disagree that it's about jealousy. I don't think resenting people for privilege is really jealousy, I think it's resenting the power they have over you. The power they have to dominate over your opinions, the undue advantages they get because they were born a certain way. I dunno if that makes sense, but I definitely disagree with your premise there. I also disagree that it's not okay to resent people with privilege over you. You may not like it, and I get that, but I think it's both understandable and okay. Everyone deserves to be free of stigma, but unfortunately we do not live in an equal world. We do not live in a world that stigmatizes neurotypical people. I really reject the idea of ignoring institutional problems and acting like everyone is treated equally, because I don't think we are. I believe the lack of autistic people writing about autistic people in the media is a problem with society, and society doesn't exist independent of the people living in society. We're all a part of society, so it's really all of our problems. The media presents what appeals to the general public, especially those with the privilege and power to contribute the most monetarily. So I don't think it's just the media's fault. It's the fault of institutional prejudice within society, and every privileged person is a part of this system. That doesn't make everyone with privilege bad, but it does make everyone with privilege have power over people without privilege in that area. And it's not wrong to resent people for having undue and unfair power to hurt you.
  • Alec Frazier Quentin, I don't think that Betti meant that we have to stand for institutional discrimination, which definitely does exist. Betti is really good people. She means very well. Be in peace, folks!
  • Alec Frazier This post is going on my blog. Please feel free to tell me if you want something regarding you excluded.
  • Betti Gefecht nope... all fine on my behalf 

From my blog post My Point of View On…Gun Control:Guns should not be owned by private citizens. There are plenty of more efficient, less deadly ways to protect oneself. There are alternative means for hunting, too.

Should Adam Lanza have had access to guns? No. He had a clear and present history of mental difficulties and had been taken out of school due to problems adjusting with society. The fact that he was using his mother’s firearms proves how easy it is for anyone severely imbalanced to have access to guns. I will now reiterate my doubtlessly controversial point of view that Adam Lanza’s mother should not have had access to guns. Only the armed forces and, in some special cases police should have guns. Trust me, the average people of this country have shown time and time again that gun ownership is not a right, but a danger. Will it be hard to ban ownership of firearms? You bet. But the results will be more than worth the trouble.

As an aside, let me reiterate that autism isnt what caused this tragedy. Based on word from authorities and confirmed by his brother, Adam was autistic. Nevertheless, I could expound upon the positive qualities of autistic people at great length. But let me suggest that anyone who believes autism was a cause does not know autism! Look at how the kid was raised on firing ranges for the problem. Look at how educators and at least one parent and a sibling gave up on him rather than educating him and, if need be, accommodating him. Like I said, I could go on and on about how this wasnt autism, but because it isnt, Im not going to explain a moot point. If, in fact Adam Lanza did not have autism, then it stands to reason, as there is a negative correlation between autism and violence.

In the end, raise your kids. Let them be raised. Love your kids. Let them love you. Do right by each other, and the world will do right by itself. You can’t help your kids if you don't give them the resources to succeed.

People Tagged in this post include: Quentin Potter, Izzy Chmiel, Marilyn Pifer, Randall Cadenhead, Garrett Dicembre, Chris Dietrich, Kristen Guin, Heidi Jane Wangelin, Donald Frazier, Christine Pifer, Ralph Brill Jr., Betti Gefecht, Melody Latimer, Meredith Davidson-King, Doc Kinne, Ross Haarstad, David Dodge, Andi Dietrich, Ari Ne'eman

People who liked the post include: Jeff Freeland, Izzy Chmiel, Christine Pifer, Randy Blaser, Greg Zilis, Christina Lazzaro, Elena Masen, Quentin Potter, Joe Davis, Jeff Poyer, Katie Kutz, Andi Dietrich, Randall Cadenhead, Amber Buckley-Shaklee, Drew Cioffi, Nick Savarese, Don Krick, Catherine Scharf, Mike Ulloa, David Haukeness, Morgan Leigh Hayes, Benjamin Latrobe, Sue Roenke, Cookie Coogan, Dominique Alvarado-Bennett, Gina Morse, Christopher Stephen Jenks, Catarina Wiggins, Kristen Guin, Ola Ojewumi, John Anderton, Brianna Boedecker, Ryan Kay, Anupa Iyer, Jason Ross, Chris TheFedora Muir, Cindy Tabor, Karen Kapko Harris, Mandi Roberts, June Lucarotti, Andrea Martinez, and Lucy Treviño.

Betti Gefecht is a very talented fanfiction authoress, having concocted an all human (AH) alternate universe (AU) version of Twilight with an autistic Edward. She writes the character very well, despite not actually having exchanges with an autistic person until I met her.

Meredith Davidson-King is a very talented fanfiction authoress, with an autistic son. She has based a story on her experiences.

Jeff Freeland is a friend of mine who loves architecture, but not as much as he loves comparing Colonial Williamsburg to Disneyland!!!

Izzy Chmiel is a friend of mine from my time in Boulder, Colorado. He has autism. 

Christine Pifer is a friend of mine with autism. She is the daughter of the Honorable Ambassador Steven Pifer.

Randy Blaser is a friend of my family’s from the time when my parents went to college with him.

Greg Zilis is a friend of mine from my time in Boulder, Colorado.

Christina Lazzaro is an acquaintance through a mutual friend.

Elena Masen is a fellow Twilight fan.

Quentin Potter is a friend of mine with autism through the ACI autism leadership training institute. Ze loves Harry Potter and studied Political Science at Michigan State University.

Joe Davis was the President of Residence Hall Council at TC3 while I was Parliamentarian of that body.

Katie Kutz is the girlfriend of one of my brother’s friends.

Andi Dietrich is a dear friend of mine and fellow Trekkie with autism.

Randall Cadenhead is a friend of mine with autism through the ACI autism leadership training institute. He studied history at El Paso Community College in Texas.

Amber Buckley-Shaklee was a fellow intern of mine in the AAPD’s summer internship program. Like me, she is a huge fan of 3E Love.

Drew Cioffi is a friend of mine from my time in Boulder, Colorado.

Nick Savarese was an aide to me in school in Boulder, Colorado. He is now a great friend.

Don Krick is a very like-minded individual to me.

Catherine Scharf is a young adult with disabilities who paneled at the 1st Annual UB Diversity in Disability Symposium.

Mike Ulloa is a friend of mine with autism through the ACI autism leadership training institute. He studied mathematics at Franklin Pierce University.

David Haukeness is a friend of mine from my time in Boulder, Colorado.

Morgan Leigh Hayes is a friend of mine from my time in Boulder, Colorado.

Benjamin Latrobe is a very like-minded individual to me.

Sue Roenke is a member of my society of faith, FUSIT, the First Unitarian Society of Ithaca.

Cookie Coogan is a friend from my hometown of Ithaca. 

Dominique Alvarado-Bennett is a fellow Twilight fan.

Gina Morse is a very like-minded individual to me.

Christopher Stephen Jenks is an Episcopalian Brother with a love for architecture and social justice.

Catarina Wiggins is a mother of two autistic children. 

Kristen Guin is autistic and a fellow member of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network.

Ola Ojewumi was a fellow intern of mine in the AAPD’s summer internship program.

John Anderton is a lovely New Orleans gentleman with a passion for architecture only equaled by his passion for GRITS!!!

Brianna Boedecker is a friend of mine from my time in Boulder, Colorado.

Ryan Kay is a friend of my brothers.

Anupa Iyer was a fellow intern of mine in the AAPD’s summer internship program.

Jason Ross is a fellow autistic adult.

Chris TheFedora Muir is Christine Pifers boyfriend. He likes fedoras.

I do not know Cindy TaborKaren Kapko HarrisMandi RobertsJune Lucarotti, Andrea Martinez, and Lucy Treviño.

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