Look into those eyes and tell me different.

I want to write about this. I want to, but my heart is heavy and the words won’t come. So please forgive my clumsy phrasing or incomplete thoughts.

I think of those small children, most of them aged the same as Poss, their lives, literally ahead of them. All gone. All gone too soon in an incomprehensible tragedy.

A tragedy that will reverberate around the world; as we watch on in horror and disbelief. Every single one of us will feel it in our own way, with our own layers of experience influencing our reactions.

We will look for blame. It’s natural. We look for someone to blame, to take the grief in a new direction and have the pure focus of anger.

For some, for many, it will be the gun culture of America. So foreign to us here in Australia, never having had guns so embedded in our nations psych that even with senseless death after senseless death, a debate remains about their place in society.

My position on this is clear, and strong. I am not against guns, I understand there is a need for them in some circumstances. And I understand that gun control won’t stop every tragedy, every death. But if it stops one. Only one. Surely, surely it’s worth it.

Others are already talking about the killer being anti-social. Lacking the ability to empathise with others. There are reports he has Aspergers.

And that’s why. Of course. That’s why.

Selfishly, defensively, this adds a layer of grief for us, even half a world away.

I see the way this conversation may unfold.

When we tell people about Poss having Aspergers, many still respond “what, like Rainman?”

I worry that this will be replaced with “what, like the Sandy Hook killer?”

There was a time, not that long ago, when we sat in front of a set of officials. They told us that others were scared of Poss, worried about what she was capable of. “A child lacking empathy could do anything”, they said. Others didn’t want her near their children. She needed to be monitored, excluded, watched. She could do anything. Anything at all.

We know this is rubbish. We know that while she may lack social empathy, her heart heaves with emotional empathy. She feels every emotion, even if she can’t articulate it. She feels so deeply that she is currently medicated to help her manage her anxiety that comes from her inability to process those feelings.

She has impulse control issues, she sometimes gets angry and doesn’t respond appropriately. Much like many 7 year olds. It’s a skill she will learn, with support and therapy.

We know that children on the Spectrum are highly susceptible to violence, and are no more likely to be the perpetrators than anyone else.

With understanding, professional guidance and tolerance, she will find her place in the world and feel accepted. Something we all need to be a balanced, functioning member of society.

Another blogger wrote this morning about how her five year old, with Aspergers, had more in common with those poor, dear children in Sandy Hook, than with the killer.

Look into those eyes and tell me you believe differently.

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  1. Yes, all of that. It is the guns stupid is all I want to say to anybody who tries to explain this away with reference to autism or mental health issues. These are everywhere but guns are not.
    And those are very beautiful eyes by the way. x

  2. I love your proud expression in the background πŸ™‚
    jillsmo recently posted..Sunspots have faded and now I’m doing timeMy Profile

  3. I just wrote about this on my School of Life blog. Then I jumped onto twitter and clicked your link. So many people will be feeling the way you do now. My heart goes out to you, and I hope this talk of blaming “Asperger’s” fades away before it becomes yet another stigma.
    Angela East (@schoolofmum) recently posted..Tragedy in the News – Suggestions for little onesMy Profile

  4. I hope that instead of blaming anything that can justify the problem, they find a solution to the gun problem.

  5. Poss is gorgeous. Aspergers didn’t kill those children, a gun did. America’s health system is a joke and their mental health system is even worse, so maybe that is to blame? What was a guy like that doing with a gun? If they had stronger gun laws, he wouldn’t have had access to it. Owning a gun in America is a simple as showing your i.d No need to get a gun licence like in most others countries in the world, it is ridiculous. Blaming a terrible tragedy on a small factor of this person’s mental wellbeing is just narrow minded and taking a easy cop out.
    Kellie (stylishkellie) recently posted..New Year, New You? Win a $497 Sureslim programMy Profile

  6. Thank you for this post. I felt sad reading about how people have viewed your child. Here is my post on the Sandy Hook shootings. http://paulacdurbinwestbyautisticblog.blogspot.com/2012/12/mother-with-asperger-syndrome-grieves.html
    Paula C. Durbin-Westby recently posted..Mother with Asperger Syndrome Grieves Sandy Hook Elementary VictimsMy Profile

  7. Somehow I managed to read your great post today despite feeling illat ease and lacking faith in human nature today. What you say is true- so many assumptions can, and have been made about my son, especially in his earlier years at school. If he were involved in an incident that had not been witnessed, it was too easy to blame him because of his difficulty to cope in others (more by other, ignorant parents than staff, I might add. People who had not bothered to get to know him at all.) What happened to looking at each situation with any objectivity?

    As for guns- the entire problem is complex, but much of it rests with the ease of access to them, in a society that sees that as a constitutional right alongside freedom of speech. American culture seems more uncomfortable about public breastfeeding than free access to guns. Something that we here in Australia cannot fathom.

    • Thanks Twitchy… I know exactly what you mean about the judgement stuff, it was a real issue at our school, which thankfully they have set out to address and so far, we have seen really big improvements.

      But you are right about the guns. I look at it and to me it’s simple, put in gun control regulations and then enforce them. But the culture is so wrapped up in the notion of guns that it’s incomprehensible to me…
      Renee recently posted..I think it suits herMy Profile

  8. Lilian Oliver says:

    Oh Renee, I hope with all my heart that the only lesson they learn from this is that the US must first and foremost look at their gun control. That is the key word here…control. I grew up on a property that had guns {for ducks and rabbits} and I never once had any inclination to pick it up and fire. Because my dad kept it in a safe and he was in control of what was happening with it at all times.

    There are also sane people that rape and kill with their bare hands that are just plain angry. Angry with the world. We can all have those ‘angry’ days but it’s what we do with them that is the difference. Your daughter has you, to guide, help and love. She will make wrong choices….but we all do. No one is perfect but blame in this instance needs to be shifted to ‘remembrance and peace’. You are an amazing mum and I am a better person reading about you and your gorgeous daughter.


    • Thank you so much Lillian.

      You make many great points; I also grew up in the country and we had guns in the house. But they were hunting riflles, not semi-automatics or hand guns and they were kept under lock and key. There was a respect for the damage they could do and were treated accordingly.

      And thank you sweets, we do our best with Poss and you are right, she will make mistakes, we all do – but without the access to guns it’s unlikely to ever be deadly….

      Renee recently posted..I think it suits herMy Profile

  9. I have been thinking about this all day. The first thing my Dad did this morning was come over and ask me if I had heard about the shooter having Aspergers. And my heart died a little. How terribly sad. I didn’t quite know what to say but that in my heart I know that Aspergers didn’t fire that gun. A neurological disorder is not responsible. What we say now in the immediate aftermath is critical. For now we mourn with those that mourn. I like your post. I will let you know when I do mine.

  10. Your daughter is gorgeous. She has beautiful eyes and I know her heart is filled with empathy.
    Why in every massacre, is the one responsible being linked to Autism? What psychotic killer has ever been a social butterfly who bakes cupcakes and brings them to the work Christmas Party? I don’t get the assumed link. At all.
    Carly@Charlie&Bella recently posted..the nightmare before christmas. the tragedy at sandy hook elementaryMy Profile

    • Oh Carly it’s so hard when these things are projected onto our kids, the defensiveness kicks in hard and we want to bundle them in cotton wool…

      And no, you are spot on – in all of these, they are never the ones doing the baking… maybe that should be the link? Non-bakers are more likely to be killers? πŸ˜‰
      Renee recently posted..I think it suits herMy Profile

      • Ohhh, quick, I better bake a cake before someone suspects me!
        It shows some peoples true ignorance, that they think Autism is just an ‘anti-shocil’ person. If only they took the time to understand people and children with Autism are not ANTI-social, they just by their makeup, lack skills and sensory processing that lets them enjoy and engage with others socially – there is a difference, it’s subtle and hard to explain.
        Carly@Charlie&Bella recently posted..wordless wednesday. first toothMy Profile

  11. The hardest part in the overall debate, for a lot of people, is being able to look at the BIG picture. A gun didn’t kill those kids, the person who squeezed the trigger did. The person who squeezed the trigger was not mentally stable, so why did he have access to guns?

    Because in the USA, every man and his dog has access to guns. Even if he were to be rejected for purchase, he would be able to steal one easily because of the lack of correct storage policy. So many gun-owners in the USA keep their guns unsecured that there’s a market for gun-holders that attach to the mattress.

    THAT is the biggest problem: the access combined with a complete lack of mental health resources support to assist those with mental disability, syndrome, etc., in order to prevent it reaching the point where they would even consider doing something like that.

    You can’t blame the syndrome itself. You can’t blame the gun itself.

    You CAN look at the disconnect in the government that allows someone who was mentally unstable to access such a high-powered weapon so easily. That’s where the blame needs to lie. With the systems that failed those kids.
    Chantelle Dalgarno recently posted..Forewarned Is Forearmed: Guns 101 for DummiesMy Profile

  12. Thank you so much for sharing my post. Poss is absolutely beautiful. I agree with Jill – your proud expression in the background makes the whole picture. And, just as with Helene, I look at Poss and see nothing but a bright, sparkly future in their pretty eyes.

    On a lighter note, how is it that we’re just now finding each other? I drink too much gin, too! (But, even intoxicated, I have the *best* grammar …)

    *raises glass in solidarity and salute*
    ProfMomEsq recently posted..One Truth About Autism and the Sandy Hook Elementary TragedyMy Profile

  13. Beaurifully written.. She is gorgeous and will be a very well grounded adult, particularly given she has a Mother and a family who will shape her and support her in all she does xo


  1. […] A Bugg has shared her response to the tragedy as an Autism parent: http://aboutabugg.com/look-into-those-eyes-and-tell-me-different/ Share this:TwitterFacebookPinterestLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. Posted in Asperger's […]

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