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Aurora and Autism.

July 23, 2012

This morning I got an email from a colleague of mine at the school I just retired from.

Fred,  
 
I am furious about this!  Incredibly harmful coming from a dad of a child with Asbergers.  I wrote to NBC immediately and said he should be fired finally!  We work so hard to fight people’s misconceptions about people with special needs and then this buffoon states this on his show!  The full quote is incredible….
Some background here: In the three decades that I taught I had many kids with autism in my classrooms. The last fifteen years I, and the colleague who wrote me, taught at a school that had a large number of Special Needs kids, including many with autism.
There is a lot of debate about autism and its causes. But here is what my colleague and I know: Every child with autism, like all of our children, are unique. Great care must be taken before you generalize too much about this one or the next one.  The number one rule is to do no harm.
My colleague’s outrage was directed at Joe Scarborough who on his morning TV show claimed to know, with no evidence, that the shooter in Aurora, Colorado was surely a kid with autism.

You don’t want to generalize,” MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough said today before saying that James Holmes, the suspected Aurora, Colo., shooter, was “on the autism scale.”

“As soon as I hear about this shooting, I knew who it was. I knew it was a young, white male, probably from an affluent neighborhood, disconnected from society — it happens time and time again. Most of it has to do with mental health; you have these people that are somewhere, I believe, on the autism scale,” said Scarborough, whose son has Asperger’s syndrome. “I don’t know if that’s the case here, but it happens more often than not. People that can walk around in society, they can function on college campuses — they can even excel on college campuses — but are socially disconnected.”

Nobody can possibly calculate the harm that Joe Scarborough has done.

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 24, 2012 12:18 am

    This is an absolutely stunning journalistic blunder from someone who really should know better. The accusation was made without any supporting evidence and with an obvious political agenda (to increase money for autism). Unfortunately, despite a perhaps noble goal, all it has succeeded in doing is making the general public more fearful of people with autism and far less likely to give their support or attention to their well being.

    It’s a statement which really should be retracted although sadly, the damage is already done and it’s an association that is unlikely to be forgotten. Years of hard work by autism advocates has been undone with just a few poorly chosen words.

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