TOTKO supporter Shian has written us this following piece about the coverage of Autism in recent days due to events which have unfolded in Connecticut. We would like to use this opportunity as an organisation that works to support schools, children and teachers, to extend our condolences to all those affected.
"We all know where we are when we hear about a crisis. We all remember our first thoughts. Some of us immediately think of who we could possibly know that might be affected. Usually the darkest prejudices of our subconscious hits at some point too. Judgement of cultures, race, governments. But for me it's not so much judgement, it's fear. Fear of how this affects me. Because I'm autistic. More specifically, I have Aspergers Syndrome.
Like the rest of the world I am shocked, appalled and heartbroken about the events which unfolded this week in Newtown, Connecticut, USA.
Most of my friends see me as a motherly person, or at least someone safe to be around. One of the ways my Aspergers manifests itself is that I am very sensitive to light, noise and personal space. I may not be able to read emotion very well, but I can sense uncomfortable situations and will suggest to my friends that we move to another area, stand somewhere else, whatever it takes. They usually feel the same way but can’t pinpoint why. I, on the other hand, can. I notice the things that other people don’t. I'm quite acutely aware of these things and it generally makes my friends feel safer for being in my company. So when I hear people stereotype people with autism as violent, I am blown away. I’m a motherly, caring and sensitive person. I’m not a monster.
Am I aggressive? No. People who know me well have seen me rant and rave and be angry about things, but never in a violent manner, and never without logical cause. That’s the thing about Autistic people, we all have a very strong sense of logic. If I am upset about something, there’s logic behind it. Things that don’t make sense upset me. Would I react violently? No. Reacting violently is never a logical idea. My autism, in fact, stops me from being a violent person. It simply won't allow me to override logic.
When it comes to accusations that people with Autism are violent, my mind boggles. It’s like saying “I got a splinter from a red pencil, therefore all red pencils will give me splinters.” It’s completely unrelated.
There are violent people all other the world committing mindless violent acts all the time. Naturally people want answers. So we pinpoint whatever we can and set it up for the blame. Gay? Muslim? Autistic? Stereotyping is a dangerous thing. I’m one of those people currently being stereotyped and I can tell you, hand on my heart, I am anything but a violent killer. In fact, if people knew anything about Autism, the connection between violence and Autism wouldn’t even occur to them.
Just because this person did something horrible is no good reason to judge all others who happen to share one similar trait. The culprit here is the man who had a gun in his hand, not Autism.
TOTKO works to help provide support for those with and affected by learning differences, learning disabilities and learning difficulties. A large part of our work is challenging stigmas and providing an alternative, more positive, portrayal of conditions such as Autism. Why not join our conversation on twitter @hellototko