The tragedy in Newtown left the nation in a state of shock, grief and anger. We are left with so many questions that will never be answered.
When we try to explain such a heinous crime, the most vulnerable populations can become the scapegoat -- in this case, children with a diagnosis on the autism spectrum, or those diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome. The national advocacy organization Autism Speaks defines it as a general term for complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.
At the Familylinks Therapeutic Learning Center, a school for children facing behavioral, emotional and developmental challenges, we see the struggles of children diagnosed on the autism spectrum -- and witness their daily triumphs.
A child named Todd came to TLC in kindergarten after displaying physical and verbal aggression toward peers. After teachers and counselors worked with him on expressing his needs, developing coping strategies and understanding the importance of following directions, he was relieved. Today, he is able to adapt to new environments, including changes in routine, with the use of coping skills when he experiences frustration. Todd is now is a model student.
Autism is a lifelong, developmental delay and condition that cannot be cured -- but that doesn't mean individuals diagnosed cannot become healthy adults.
Placing blame on innocent people through generalizations only does a disservice to the nation as we move forward and address the complex problem of violence in our culture.
Chief Operating Officer