How long will it be?

19 Apr

The demonisation of the disabled has always been with us. The purposeful assigning of negative characteristics in order to worsen a case or point of view. Sometimes the people doing this are the very parents of the disabled people in question. Autistic kids have been called ‘toxic train wrecks’, ‘walking nightmares’, ‘unreachable’, ‘soulless’, ’empty shells, ‘dead inside’.

So, I have a nasty fear, shared by Asperger Square 8 and MOM-NOS that at some point, the murderer of several teachers and young people in a gun rampage in Virginia will be diagnosed by the media as autistic.

Here’s one media description of the murderer:

He was always really, really quiet and kind of weird, keeping to himself all the time,” he said. “Just of anti-social, didn’t talk to anybody. I tried to make conversation with him in August or so and he would just give one word answers and not try and carry on the conversation.”

Sound familiar? Yeah.

Or maybe he was just rude and didn’t like people. he did, after all, kill several of them.

On the EoH yahoo group one poster says:

Wonder if they can run that urine test polyprophilin???? on him for mercury poisoning. I bet that kid is toxic as all get out.

John Best chips in with:

The article says he didn’t make eye contact with his room mates and didn’t acknowledge people greeting him. That sounds familiar.

And when otehrs expressed skepticism that the murderer was on the spectrum, John explained why he wanted him to be:

If he was on the spectrum, then the shooting becomes the fault of Neurodiversity for encouraging him to celebrate the difference instead of getting cured.

Nice. Forget that people have been killed here, lets twist this to get at a group of people we don’t like. How respectful.

Thankfully, Erik put John right:

John, I hate the neurodiverse philosophy of no treatment/no cure, you know that. But what you’re saying is way off base.

But isn’t it amazing how even the parents of autistic kids are so very willing to see their own kids as similar to this murderer? Amazing and scary.

Also on EoH yesterday, a poster posted this link (warning – not nice) which is a petition to ‘kick out autistic retards from America’. The poster described how horrified she was by this petition. Me too. Its appalling.

But look at the wording of the petition:

In the past 15 years autism and mental retardation rates amongst children has skyrocketted. One out of every 100 children born in America is either retarded or autistic. Soon autistics and retards will make up 30% of the American population (and that’s a lot.) They do not deserve to live in America, not to mention that they take our tax dollars and our welfare money because they require special education and can’t work beacause they can’t communicate. Taxes will go up drastically in the next 20 years because of them.

Epidemic rhetoric, financial cost epidemic and demonisation. In a slightly differing context, I could easily have been reading a press release from the National Autism Association or the mainstream media.

If you have popularised the epidemic rhetoric, if you have popularised the financial cost rhetoric against autistic people then please know that you are not too dissimilar from this odious individual.

Autism should not, ever, be demonised in order to score political points. There is _no evidence_ to support the idea of an epidemic. There is _no evidence_ that autistic people are crazed killers. How is this advocacy? How does it help?

22 Responses to “How long will it be?”

  1. Club 166 April 19, 2007 at 10:45 #

    …The article says he didn’t make eye contact with his room mates and didn’t acknowledge people greeting him. That sounds familiar. …

    Yes, it sounds exactly like what I’d expect from a shy person raised in a traditional Asian household.

  2. Jeanette April 19, 2007 at 13:12 #

    When this tragedy occured, I thought the same thing….How are they going to blame Autism?
    What is more tragic is the fact that parent’s of autistic children are doing the comparison.
    What a crying shame !!!

  3. Ms. Clark April 19, 2007 at 15:11 #

    My thought was he was probably psychotic, it can be easy to see similarities between autism and psychosis. Psychotic breaks can happen to young people under stress. The young man had been in a mental institution before. But yesterday I realized that I really wanted him to get labeled as psychotic and not autistic, and how psychotic people dealing with their problems, and their family members were probably all hoping that he’d get diagnosed as bipolar, and the bipolar people were probably all hoping he’d get diagnosed as anti-social personality disorder and so on.

    No one would want to embrace this fellow as one of their own. He could have had a brain tumor that affected his judgement, then the brain tumor sufferers would all be thinking, “I hope people don’t avoid me now because they think I’m going to go off and kill a bunch of people.”

    I still don’t want him to be associated with autistics in any way for the same reason. People like to make those generalizations. I’m sure already there are nasty things being said about Koreans because Cho was Korean. I’m guessing African-Americans all heaved a sigh of relief to find out the shooter wasn’t African-American because already there’s a deep bias against African-Americans as if they are all scary people (they are not).

    And just in case anyone believed what Erik Nanstiel wrote on EoHarm, “neurodiversity” in no way is against treating autistics or curing their diseases (asthma, athlete’s foot, heart malfunctions, gut problems, food allergies, whatever).

    Erik knows that people who believe in acceptance and neurodiversity are not against caring for autistic people or teaching autistic kids, he just took that moment to advance his own ugly prejudice. This from a man who sits on his daughters legs so doctors can take blood tests so Erik can continue to inject his daughter with a chemical castration drug (Lupron).

    Parents on EoHarm who have Asperger’s kids will rage about the horrific epidemic of autism. One of the most despicable descriptions of autism I’ve ever heard came from Mark Geier where he describes how autism will destroy America, and autistics are all violent and break their mother’s arm(s). I didn’t hear Nanstiel, Geier’s biggest fan, complain about that demonization. I haven’t heard any of the EoHarm gang complain about the demonization of autistics, they are too busy promulgating that same demonization. John Best is just the most extreme of their group.

    He got chewed out on there yesterday (by ABA fans) for attacking ABA, not for demonizing autistic people. THAT they like about him.

    If tomorrow someone shoots up a classroom of autistic students you can be sure that the shooter has been reading the propaganda put out by the National Autism Association, Autism Society of America, SAFE MINDS, Moms against Mercury, Autism Speaks, Generation Rescue, Cure Autism Now and the rest of these epidemic howlers and haters of autism… because their propaganda has been printed and pubished all over the place thanks to their spending so much money (hundreds of thousands of dollars) on advertising their despicable view of autism and autistics.

  4. hollywoodjaded April 19, 2007 at 15:28 #

    Thank-you Ms Clark, I couldn’t agree more.

  5. jypsy April 19, 2007 at 16:03 #

    Just heard his great-aunt interviewed on CNN. She said he was autistic… (didn’t quite catch the wording, either his parents were told he was autistic or his parents told the great-aunt that he was autistic)

  6. Shawna April 19, 2007 at 17:01 #

    Yep, here’s the link:
    http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/04/19/vtech.shooting/index.html

  7. jypsy April 19, 2007 at 17:07 #

    “they told me it was autism” said the great aunt. CNN says “there is no confirmation that he was autistic” and “even if he was, experts say, he is no more likely to go on a killing spree than anyone else”

  8. jypsy April 19, 2007 at 17:16 #

    “Cho’s great-aunt, Kim Yang-soon, said Cho was diagnosed with autism after coming to U.S. in 1992. Speaking from her home in South Korea, she described Cho as “very cold” and said her niece was constantly worried about him.

    “Every time I called and asked how he was, she would say she was worried about him,” Kim said, according to a translation from the AP. “Who would have known he would cause such trouble, the idiot.””

  9. Bonnie Ventura April 19, 2007 at 17:22 #

    jypsy… as Professor Grinker discusses in “Unstrange Minds,” there is a very strong stigma against autism in Korean culture. It’s possible that the great-aunt and other family members might have been using the word “autistic” as a generalized term for serious mental impairment, in much the same way that people in Western countries often describe mass murderers as psychotic or schizophrenic, regardless of whether they actually are.

  10. jypsy April 19, 2007 at 17:26 #

    my comments are reports of what’s in the media, posted without personal comment.

  11. Kassiane April 19, 2007 at 20:20 #

    On watching the videos and stuff on the news, our guess was that someone would say spectrum, but that the truth was closer to the schizotypal personality disorder area of things. Not like that changes anything, as so many people are dead and nothing changes that. Eye contact is irrellevant, we (dad and I) decided because of his cultural background, we went more on what was said/written…there was a lot more executive functioning than either of us could imagine using.

    Regardless, it’s a tragedy for EVERYONE involved, not just the killed, but also the family and greater sociological groups of the killer.

  12. Broken Link April 19, 2007 at 23:11 #

    The link you provided, Shawna, no longer has any mention of autism or autistic.

  13. Shawna April 20, 2007 at 04:34 #

    I just read on a message board that they have taken it out. It was in the article, but I guess they had second thoughts. That was the only news source that I know of that had said anything about autism,which is telling me that it was based on something they heard from someone somewhere, but it’s not a confirmed fact.
    Imagine that, CNN reporting gossip! With all sarcasm aside, I’m glad that it’s gone, and I hope that the mention of ASD stays out of all the news reports that have anything to do with that horrible tragedy.

  14. Ms. Clark April 20, 2007 at 05:51 #

    I think it’s possible the shooter killed at least one spectrum person. He killed an elderly professor. I don’t know anything about the people he killed, surely not all were disabled people, but some may have been.

    As Kassiane said, it’s just so sad and terrible. We had a shooting on the UCD campus where the guy ended up committing suicide. I don’t think he shot at anyone else. He wasn’t a student, but his girlfriend was. I was on the campus the time when it happened but I wasn’t anywhere near the incident. Even so, it’s scary and disruptive to everyone.

  15. jypsy April 20, 2007 at 11:09 #

    CNN not only had that quote I posted above but in a red box at the very top of the page, titled “Story Highlights” it had:
    “• NEW: Great-aunt says gunman was “cold,” diagnosed with autism years ago”

  16. Phil April 20, 2007 at 22:50 #

    Two things to say here.

    First – what Cho did needed a high level of hand to eye co-ordination. Not something I’d credit to someone with any ASD let alone Autism!

    Second – Best is showing his contempt by asking anyone who abuses him if they own a gun. Even I copped that after he tried to join my new website and I sent him packing and I left a message saying say. The man is a meglomaniac. Pure and simple.

    Kev, I was just on Autism Vox, and a mention was made of paranoid schizophrenia. Your thoughts on that re Cho? I think it might be right.

    (and just quickly – any chance of my blog being added to the Hub? If you need the URL let me know)

  17. Kev April 21, 2007 at 08:28 #

    Send me the URL Phil :o)

  18. Kim Stagliano April 21, 2007 at 12:24 #

    Kevin, thank you for the compliment on my HuffPo piece. I almost did fall out of my chair. There are no sides to choose on this topic. Just tears all around. Well, back to my side of the autism planet… I do know Sue Senator is smiling today. LOL!

    Kim Stagliano

  19. Zaecus April 22, 2007 at 05:13 #

    Phil,

    I have excellent hand-eye coordination, as I would expect any autistic from any autistic that spent years perseverating on something that required it.

  20. Phil April 22, 2007 at 11:01 #

    How many years, Zaecus? To handle a gun the way Cho did would have taken longer than he would have had available!

    If he’d been in his 30’s – then it’s possible. But he wasn’t.

  21. Zaecus April 22, 2007 at 20:58 #

    Phil,

    I was shooting birds in the head at a distance of 200 yards when I was in my late teens. Granted, they weren’t flying at the time.

    However, I was also hitting quarter inch targets on a video game screen with an accuracy of about 75%, and they -were- moving. Some of them were even blinking. This would be where and how I actually developed the hand-eye coordination.

    I’d say the whole process, from not being able to glue popsicle sticks into anything other than “pile of popsicle sticks” and being laughed at for it as a cub scout to being able to pick off small targets in a video game and having people stare at me because of my lack of expression, took about eight years.

    I’ve seen several autistics list far shorter time periods to achieve the same skills, but a significant portion of my childhood was spent in a world without video games.

  22. Lucas McCarty April 23, 2007 at 08:13 #

    It’s quite complicated; I don’t think all co-ordination is controlled by the same part of the brain. I type quite fast, but Amanda Baggs types at least twice as fast as I can when she’s having a good day, yet she has some balance issues.

    My hand-writing it terrible, but I can do some very complicated gymnastic and breakdance moves. I’m wondering how long Cho must have been practicing shooting before the incident and what his hit:miss ratio was during it.

    Remember that he can still be Autistic even if Autism didn’t make him violent.

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