The documents and statements released recently in the Newtown Massacre case are chilling. Among them, there's these facts:
Lanza was diagnosed in 2006 with "profound autism spectrum disorder, with rigidity, isolation and a lack of comprehension of ordinary social interaction and communications," while also displaying symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, according to Dr. Robert A. King, a professor at the Yale School of Medicine Child Study Center.
But he also told investigators that he observed nothing in Lanza's behavior that would have predicted he would become a mass killer. Contacted by The Associated Press, King referred questions to the Yale University press office.
Peter Lanza, who was estranged from his son, told police that his son had Asperger's syndrome — a type of autism. Autism is not associated with criminal violence. Among the images released Friday was a photo of a birthday card he'd given Adam, offering to take his son hiking or shooting, though it's not clear when it was sent.
Kathleen A. Koenig, a nurse at the Yale Child Studies Center, told investigators that Lanza frequently washed his hands and changed his socks 20 times a day, to the point where his mother did three loads of laundry a day.
The nurse, who met with Lanza in 2006 and 2007, said Lanza's mother declined to give him prescribed antidepressant and antianxiety medication after she reported that he had trouble raising his arm, something she attributed to the drug.
This document and statement should put to rest the constant speculation and denial that Adam Lanza was diagnosed with autism. We were constantly told by journalists and bloggers and commenters that we had no proof of such diagnosis, or that it was never made.
We were told it wasn't autism, but Asperger's, which his less severe. Now we see that a recognized, authoritative doctor is explaining that it is "profound autism," and that it is co-morbid with obsessive-compulsive disorder. The father continues to describe it as Asperger's, but he is either in denial or ill-informed.
We can also note that this doctor doesn't have even the most basic background materials -- like Lanza's school essays that were disturbingly violent, that might have changed his opinion regarding potential violence.
Of course, there will be many who will continue to say "but there are other factors here, not autism," that led to this tragedy. Or they'll say "my autistic child is a sweet, peaceful kid, and it is so unfair to stigmatize him."
Neither of these attitudes will help avoid the next situation, which isn't going to come from the helicopter parents who interact constantly with their autistic child and are a huge factor in his peaceful outcome, but will come from parents in denial or who have ceased to cope with their autistic child, who then becomes violent.
Obviously, having this deeply upsetting news about your child puts some people in denial, as such parents themselves have described.
And there is an enormous amount of denial among parents and the liberal press that there is any connection between autism and violence whatsoever.
But there is, and this case shows it.
There may be factors that make this case rare or unique -- co-morbidity with untreated deprssion and OCD; dysfunctional parents; accessibility of guns; violent video games.
But certainly you couldn't say this case had "nothing" to do with autism. When a child has autism, the parents obviously also can become sick and dysfunctional. Here's a completely overwhelmed mother who has ceased listening to reason about a much-needed medication, and is also soothing herself with fairy-tales about "experiments" needed to see if her son can "handle" being home alone -- when he has not come out of his room for three months.
What should have happened is that this mother could call an ambulance and put her son in a psychiataric hospital, without a lot of resistance and obstruction. A person sitting alone in their room playing violent video cames is not someone you leave to their own devices, although we can understand how it happens that a mother in this situation begins to accept this profoundly dysfunctional situation as "the new normal." Society doesn't help her with this, because it either treats such behaviour as a source for comedy videos on Youtube, or says that it's even fine, and that it's wrong to put people in psychiatric hospitals againts their will.
The resistance to finding any link between autism and violence is as profound as the profound autism. And that's understandable, because parents don't want their children hurt, stigmatized, incarcerated against their will, harmed in any way. All understood.
But as with all things in life, there is a balance. All those things are desirable, but not having dozens of school children massacred is also desirable. And the key to preventing this again lies precisely in looking at the mother's situation -- it is one of no help, temporary measures, stigmatizing of her if she attempts psychiatric confinement or even the impossibility of getting good psychiatric confinement, despite her wealth, because of the profession's resistance.
The psychiatric profession resists this not merely because facilities are overcrowded or not very good at handling patients and improving them; they resist because they don't want to lose their licenses in a malpractice lawsuit for wrongful internment. If you don't believe me, ask them. Look at any court records where people tried to get psychiatric confinement for relatives beyond 3 days or 30 days, and see what the result was -- denial even for the 3 days, or refusal to follow up after the 30 days. Then they are back to square one.
We need to destigmatize psychiaric confinement, involve families and society more with it, make the facilities work, and stop exposing the general public to harm. That's all there is to it. Newtown proves this to us. And yet we are still hearing howling -- and will for a long time -- about making ANY association between autism and violence.
The chief reason we don'to see more cases of autism and violence isn't because of the lack of connection, but because hero-parents are bearing the brunt of the management of such patients on themselves, at enormous cost to themselves and the other members of their family. That's all good, if they have the will and resources to accept such a burden and can handle it.
Not everyone is a hero, and Mrs. Lanza is a good example of that fact -- a fact that -- again -- we shouldn't stigmatize, by telling her to become more of a heroine or even blaming her --as the hideous Sarah Kendzior did about another woman who came forward with her story -- we as a society should provide every support, approval, and means. Otherwise the results are deadly.
Here's a typical debate I have with people who bombard me with hate mail -- in this case, in Second Life after I published this lengthy piece raising the issue about the "hero-parents" who may be masking the violence of their children by absorbing it on themselves. Yes, I get it that they have "research" showing there "isn't" violence by and large. Yes, I get it that most autism cases appear to be unconnected whatsoever with violence.
But...some are, and one of the factors is the absence of a hero-parent. I'm not for waiting to see if hero-parents will break or not to deal with this problem -- a situation I've seen in both real life and in Second Life. I'm for being open and honest about the connection that does occur at times, and making it more than fine for such families to seek psychiatric confinement as a solution.
(Saved Tue Oct 29 20:48:08 2013)you have some interesting ideas/generalizations about autism.... some of which are rather hurtful.
[18:57] Jullianna Juliesse: (Saved Tue Oct 29 20:49:59 2013)As someone who works with kids an young adults on the spectrum, just saying......
[19:00] Prokofy Neva: That's great that you work with autistic kids. The public has the right to question some of the defensive myths built up around this subject by vested interests. Journalists and bloggers have a right to question it. When we have mass murders occur again and again with various factors converging, whether psychiatric drugs, video games, or autism spectrum, we have to investigate. It's not about hurting someone. You can go about your business. But you cannot deprive the rest of us from demanding answers and demanding protections. Adam Lanza's mother should have been able to get him into long-term residential treatment without facing so many barriers, end of story.
[19:02] Jullianna Juliesse: I live in CT
[19:02] Jullianna Juliesse: I know the people involved in that
[19:02] Jullianna Juliesse: I find your generalizations hateful
[19:03] Jullianna Juliesse: and I won't keep my opinions to myself.
[19:03] Jullianna Juliesse: autism does not equal hate, or violence.
[19:03] Jullianna Juliesse: ramble on missy.
[19:04] Prokofy Neva: Great. Then you should endorse locking up people who are a danger to themselves and others. Well, it's too bad. They aren't hateful. They are a call to have less burden on families who turn themselves into burned-out heroes, and a call for society to do more. There's no reason why residential treatment has to be inhumane. But it does, though. Some of the people on the autism spectrum are indeed found to be violent. You'll have to accept this. And clearly one of the key reasons why we aren't seeing that is that parents hide this by absorbing all the difficulty themselves. I have seen it.
[19:04] Prokofy Neva: Well ramble on yourself "missy".
[19:04] Jullianna Juliesse: cut and paste. yay
[19:04] Prokofy Neva: You don't sound terribly thoughtful or intelligent, but no doubt you do good work.
[19:05] Jullianna Juliesse: You are not a parent, clearly
[19:05] Prokofy Neva: So why don't you concentrate on doing your good work and stop trying to do thought-control and speech-control on other people
[19:05] Prokofy Neva: Um, yes I am, in fact.
[19:05] Jullianna Juliesse: thought control?
[19:05] Prokofy Neva: And I don't accept bullshit -- I counter it.
[19:05] Jullianna Juliesse: goodness
[19:05] Prokofy Neva: And on this question, we're getting a lot of double talk.
[19:05] Jullianna Juliesse: I work to counter it.
[19:05] Prokofy Neva: No, you work to propagandize your PC thinking which is oppressive
[19:06] Prokofy Neva: and that means people in trouble then feel they can't get help by having their loved ones go into mental institutions
[19:06] Prokofy Neva: that's the problem
[19:06] Prokofy Neva: you help stigmatize in fact
[19:06] Jullianna Juliesse: oh?
[19:06] Prokofy Neva: by making it seem that no one should ever be violent because they can't be violent -- a tautology.
[19:06] Jullianna Juliesse: they are not.
[19:06] Prokofy Neva: When there are cases of violence, and by autistic and by Aspbergers
[19:06] Jullianna Juliesse: check the spelling.
[19:07] Prokofy Neva: It doesn't mean all of them are, but for those percentage who are, in combination with other factors, more restraint is needed
[19:07] Prokofy Neva: Check your snotty attitude
[19:07] Jullianna Juliesse: we all see the world a different way
[19:07] Prokofy Neva: I guess you're on the autistic spectrum yourself. Well, great, that should help your work with kids
[19:07] Jullianna Juliesse: I will fight snottiness
[19:07] Jullianna Juliesse: no, I am not.
[19:07] Prokofy Neva: I'm not required to shackle my own perceptions over your neuralgia
[19:07] Prokofy Neva: well whatever, you're a selfappointed heroine, clearly, and it's a bore
[19:08] Jullianna Juliesse: oh you are special!
[19:08] Prokofy Neva: No, I'm not special, I'm a normal person who calls out the truth on this issue, that's all.
[19:08] Jullianna Juliesse: You have no knowledge
[19:08] Prokofy Neva: Parents like Nancy Lanza bear too much and it's because people like you stigmatize the idea of them admitting their child is violent
[19:08] Jullianna Juliesse: and your ignorance of it is apparent.
[19:08] Jullianna Juliesse: and when I see prejudice, I get Mad.
[19:08] Jullianna Juliesse: MAD
[19:08] Prokofy Neva: No, your unwillingness to see the truth about some percentage of cases is the real problem
[19:09] Prokofy Neva: well get mad, you don't sound terribly bright
[19:09] Jullianna Juliesse: there are people without autism who are messed up
[19:09] Jullianna Juliesse: maybe I am not terribly bright
[19:09] Prokofy Neva: But Adam Lanza was on the specturm, he became violent, and should have had earlier intervention
[19:09] Prokofy Neva: your refusal to concede that is troublesome
[19:09] Jullianna Juliesse: get over Adam Lanza.
[19:09] Prokofy Neva: because it certainly doesn't harm the majority of non-violent autistic cases to admit that some are violent
[19:10] Jullianna Juliesse: there are others who have donw far worse.
[19:10] Prokofy Neva: No, I won't, because he massacred dozens of children
[19:10] Jullianna Juliesse: yes, and my priest buried them
[19:10] Prokofy Neva: Um, I think that's the largest number of children killed in America in one incident, or at least one of the largest
[19:10] Jullianna Juliesse: do not blame autism
[19:10] Prokofy Neva: so now I know that you ARE sectarian on this question and are trying to silence truthful discussion
[19:10] Prokofy Neva: but he was on the spectrum, that was amply documented
[19:11] Prokofy Neva: it's great that your priest helped the families. That doesn't make you an expert or the only legitimate voice on this subject
[19:11] Jullianna Juliesse: you are singling out all people with autism
[19:11] Jullianna Juliesse: fot the act of one
[19:11] Jullianna Juliesse: *for
[19:11] Jullianna Juliesse: which I find offensive
[19:11] Prokofy Neva: No. I'm saying that this small minority of people who are violent need extra special treatment
[19:11] Jullianna Juliesse: that is all.
[19:12] Prokofy Neva: that doesn't mean all of them have to be arrested or forcibly treated. They aren't anyway. Getting treatment is a hugely difficult job.
[19:12] Jullianna Juliesse: you are crazy.
[19:12] Prokofy Neva: I'm for those cases where families can't cope with difficult and even violent children that they can get help and get residential treatment
[19:12] Jullianna Juliesse: Autism is a neurological condition
[19:12] Prokofy Neva: without the stigma that it "can't be" because "it can't be"
[19:12] Prokofy Neva: So?
[19:12] Prokofy Neva: so what?
[19:12] Prokofy Neva: that doesn't change that it can be a factor for violence
[19:12] Jullianna Juliesse: a sensory processing thing
[19:13] Jullianna Juliesse: no speaking with you.
[19:13] Jullianna Juliesse: Good night@
[19:13] Prokofy Neva: It doesn't matter the etiology.
[19:14] Jullianna Juliesse: %^&^%^%^%^%^%^
[19:14] Prokofy Neva: What matters is that parents get help without judgement.
[19:14] Prokofy Neva: You're one of the judgers.
[19:14] Jullianna Juliesse: You do not know me
[19:15] Jullianna Juliesse: Kindly do not pass judgment on those are different than you
[19:15] Prokofy Neva: But that's what you're doing, trying to round me up and suppress my speech and override me
[19:15] Jullianna Juliesse: Come spend a day with me and me kids
[19:15] Prokofy Neva: I won't be changing my mind or my blogging
[19:15] Jullianna Juliesse: fine
[19:16] Prokofy Neva: I don't need to do that. I have my own kids to take care of and my own life. I have my opinion, that is valuable, and I will stick to it.
[19:16] Prokofy Neva: I'm sure you do important work, don't try to be hegemonic about it
[19:16] Jullianna Juliesse: well done
[19:16] Prokofy Neva: It's not necessary for everyone in the world to believe your sectarian beliefs about your children in order to help them
[19:16] Jullianna Juliesse: big word, yay
[19:16] Prokofy Neva: No one is out to "get" your autistic children
[19:16] Jullianna Juliesse: back the fuck off my friends, ok?
[19:16] Prokofy Neva: But they sure as hell will not let any small percentage of violent autistic children with other factors like gun access kill the rest of our children. No thanks.
[19:17] Prokofy Neva: Back the fuck off me.
[19:17] Prokofy Neva: The end.
[19:17] Prokofy Neva: You are not interesting to talk to
[19:17] Jullianna Juliesse: people with autism are not violent
[19:17] Prokofy Neva: Hilarious for YOU to tell me to back the fuck off, when you crossed the street to come in here and tell me your beliefs forcibly
[19:17] Prokofy Neva: I didn't seek you out
[19:17] Jullianna Juliesse: your are ill-informed, dearest.
[19:17] Prokofy Neva: but some of them are
[19:17] Prokofy Neva: that has been established
[19:17] Prokofy Neva: and the questions have to be asked again and again
[19:17] Prokofy Neva: precisely becuase of this stubborn omerta you have built up around the subject
[19:18] Jullianna Juliesse: I write the grants, have the research.
[19:18] Jullianna Juliesse: what do you do?
[19:18] Jullianna Juliesse: oh wait, nothing!
[19:18] Jullianna Juliesse: mute!
[19:18] Prokofy Neva: So what? I have researched too, I've documented it on my blog, and I stand by it.
[19:18] Prokofy Neva: I will continue to raise the issue.
[19:18] Jullianna Juliesse: yay.