Rosenblum: Do you want to understand an autistic kid? Ask Daniel

  • Article by: GAIL ROSENBLUM , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 19, 2012 - 9:13 PM
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billybob8Dec. 19, 1210:05 PM

Thank You! Finally a voice of reason in this unfortunate conversation regarding Autism/Asperger’s. I also am a parent of a child with Asperger’s and am disheartened with the connections being made in the media. There have been so many mischaracterizations of individuals diagnosed on the autism spectrum, especially those diagnosed with Asperger’s. After last week’s tragedy, the natural reaction is to search for a reason why. Why the killing? Why the violence? Why 1st graders? The media incorrectly latched on to Asperger’s and ran with it. To those affect by autism, this mischaracterization is incorrect at best and detrimental at worst. Individuals with autism are not prone to violence any more than others. Individuals with autism do not lack empathy. Its other uneducated people who don’t understand how to interpret atypical emotional expression.

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irenesgirlDec. 19, 1211:06 PM

As the mother of an adult with Asperger's, I can say I am happy for this young author, that at least he has friends from his "resource group". My adult child has no friends & despite the best of efforts & plans, is largely ignored in the real world. Heartbreaking.

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shemp9971Dec. 20, 12 6:55 AM

That's true. The media have become irresponsible in recent years, particularly with regard to covering events like the Newtown shootings. I happen to have Asperger's myself and am concerned that this event reinforces false perceptions about the autistic community in general. As for the shootings, the focus should be on the victims themselves, not the shooter. We don't need more misguided copycats out there.

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lindn1Dec. 20, 12 8:29 AM

I have a daughter with Asperger's. I've heard the saying: "If you've met one kid with Asperger's, you've met one kid with Asperger's". Just like snowflakes, even though there are a lot of similarities, no 2 Aspies are alike.

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davehougDec. 20, 1211:23 AM

The world can't understand / predict what these 'different' kids think. SOOOOO because they don't know, the default is unpredictable = possible danger = any story of mental illness & violence sinks deeper into basic assumptions. My sympathies to all lonely kids.

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rkn55811Dec. 20, 12 1:00 PM

Some very interesting and enlightening comments. Unfortunately, the simplistic style of media coverage has no time for any in-depth analysis of mental health issues and everything seems to come down to the type of weapon used and the number of rounds that the magazine held.

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sailing64Dec. 20, 12 1:14 PM

lindn1 - You have a very wise and realistic view. Kids on the autism spectrum fall on a wide range of abilities and disabilities. Just because some kids are able to cope better than others with the support of their families, does not mean we shouldn't be looking further at the problem at hand.

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xenonimusDec. 20, 12 2:11 PM

I'm an adult with Aspergers. When I was a kid, back in the 60's and 70's, they didn't diagnose or treat kids who had Asperger's. I was simply an odd kid. I didn't have many friends and the friends I had were also odd kids, just like me. When I was in school I largely kept to myself. At recess, when the other kids were off playing games, you would likely find me in the library reading. I liked reading more than I liked socializing. I didn't innitiate conversations, and when others did I simply mimiced the responces that other kids or adults made. For all of that, I was not lonely or unhappy. I would frequently spend entire days on a solo adventures exploring the roadways, neighborhoods, parks, forests, and other sites within walking/biking distance of my home. As I got older I spent more and more of my time hanging out with and expanding my circle of odd frinds. In high school I dated geeky girls and had geeky hobbies like computers, and playing Dungeons and Dragons. After high school I tried to expand my circle of friends to include more 'normal' people, but I was really only successful with the party crowd - and only because everyone is odd when you are drinking and doing drugs, so I was able to fit right in. While that lifestlye had some benefits with regards to lessining my social anxienties, it did have a dark side as well. That said, I wouldn't change a bit of it, even if I could. The point of this is, as the years went by, I settled down, got a good kob, got married, bought a house, etc., and I'm living a pretty normal life, but on my own terms. I found my own way through life, and even though it took a bit longer for me than it did for the 'normal' kids, I got to where I wanted to be all the same. I never thought of myself as being 'disabled' in any way, and I still don't. Sure, I made mistakes along the way, but I saw plenty of 'normal' kids make mistakes as well, and some much worse than mine. So maybe we can start by not calling Aspergers a 'disorder', and simply see it as a different way of engaging life and learning. I may be a square peg, but I do not want anyone trying to round me off so I will fit into a round hole. The parts that you would cut away are the parts that make me who I am, and I like who I am. The fact is, there are plenty of square holes where I fit just fine, and I don't need to be anything other than who I am.

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tonyrozyckiDec. 21, 12 4:42 PM

The definitions of these various "spectrum" conditions are so vague, subjective and variable it seems like half the population or more might qualify. Is it sometimes just an elaborate game or ruse so everyone can feel special and schools then need to hire more and more trained therapists and various types of social workers to persuade the students to behave themselves and try to learn? I know there are many people who are chronically anti-social. Not so sure some of these labels make sense nor are the answer for bad behavior claiming to be a disability in order to receive special treatment. I think most people feel odd and lonely at times.

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AlohaMikeDec. 22, 12 6:06 AM

If you're trying to understand autism by only reading about the vague "definitions of these various "spectrum" conditions", you will remain ignorant for the rest of your life. Try going out and actually spending some time with these kids and you will understand why it's called a spectrum. Get to know 3 or 4 kids with autism and then come back and update us all on your research...

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