But sometimes disability is mental illness. Rarely, thank God!
According to some information to date, dangerous and deadly mental illness resulted in the horror inside the walls of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14, 2012.
From Salon in March of 2009:
The monster inside my sonRead the entire essay HERE. Relate the contents of the essay to Adam Lanza, who according to the information to date, had a form of autism.
For years I thought of his autism as beautiful and mysterious. But when he turned unspeakably violent, I had to question everything I knew.
On Feb. 14 I awaken to this headline: “Professor Beaten to Death by Autistic Son.”
I scan the story while standing, my coffee forgotten. Trudy Steuernagel, a faculty member in political science at Kent State, has been murdered and her 18-year-old son, Sky, has been arrested and charged with the crime, though he is profoundly disabled and can neither speak nor understand. Sky, who likes cartoons and chicken nuggets, apparently lost control and beat his mother into a coma. He was sitting in jail when she died.
This happens to be two days after my older son’s 21st birthday, which we marked behind two sets of locked steel doors. I’m exhausted and hopeless and vaguely hung over because Andrew, who has autism, also has evolved from sweet, dreamy boy to something like a golem: bitter, rampaging, full of rage. It happened no matter how fiercely I loved him or how many therapies I employed.
Now, reading about this Ohio mother, there is a moment of slithering nausea and panic followed immediately by a sense of guilty relief.
I am not alone.
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Andrew started life as a mostly typical child. But at 3 and a half he became remote and perseverative, sitting in a corner and staring at his own splayed hand. Eventually he was diagnosed with high-functioning autism, a label that seemed to explain everything from his calendar memory and social isolation to his normal IQ....
Violence on the part of autists, particularly murderous violence, is extremely rare — certainly no more frequent than among the rest of the population.
There is some evidence that Asperger's Syndrome bestows benefits:
Hans Asperger, the German doctor who discovered the syndrome, would agree with Kennedy's assessment. He believed that "for success in science or art, a dash of autism is essential. The essential ingredient may be an ability to turn away from the everyday world, from the simply practical and to rethink a subject with originality so as to create in new untrodden ways with all abilities canalized into the one specialty."The human brain is mysterious and complex, perhaps unfathomably so.
We rightly grieve for the slain children and school personnel at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
But I also find myself saddened for Nancy Lanza and her son. I will not demonize them.
I will, however, ask this question: Why is the medical profession, particularly the mental-health profession, so often unable to help families in a crisis such as the crisis in the Lanza household?
Consider the concluding words from the first link in this posting:
A fellow academic and writer, Steuernagel [slain in 2009 by her autistic son], too, insisted on finding beauty in autism. Her legacy includes an editorial about Sky’s loving nature and relevance, how he led her through life along “a trail of sparkles.”
Mine, I decide, must be in part to break the silence about autism’s darker side. We cannot solve this problem by hiding it, the way handicapped children themselves used to be tucked away in cellars. In order to help the young men who endure this rage, someone has to be willing to tell the truth.
So here it is.