Tsk, tsk, Joe Scarborough…thanks for nothing!

Original statement:

“You don’t want to generalize,” MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough said today before saying that James Holmes, the suspected Aurora, Colo., shooter, was “on the autism scale.”

“As soon as I hear about this shooting, I knew who it was. I knew it was a young, white male, probably from an affluent neighborhood, disconnected from society — it happens time and time again. Most of it has to do with mental health; you have these people that are somewhere, I believe, on the autism scale,” said Scarborough, whose son has Asperger’s syndrome. “I don’t know if that’s the case here, but it happens more often than not. People that can walk around in society, they can function on college campuses — they can even excel on college campuses — but are socially disconnected.”

Subsequent clarification of comments:

During a debate regarding the recent Colorado shootings, I suggested that the Aurora tragedy should make Americans focus more on mental health in this country. I also stated that my own experiences raising a son with Aspergers made me keenly aware of how important strong support systems are to those who might otherwise be isolated.

The growing Autism epidemic is a tremendous burden for children, parents and loved ones to endure. My call for increased funding and awareness for Autism and other mental health conditions was meant to support the efforts of those who work every day to improve the lives of Americans impacted. Those suggesting that I was linking all violent behavior to Autism missed my larger point and overlooked the fact that I have a wonderful, loving son with Aspergers. Perhaps I could have made my point more eloquently.

I look forward to continuing my work with wonderful organizations like Autism Speaks to provide badly needed support to millions of Americans who struggle with Autism every day.

Quoted from Dylan Byers on Media at Politico.com, July 23, 2012

Dear Mr. Scarborough,

I know you have since clarified your comments, but I’m neither satisfied with nor mollified by your follow-up statement.  What, exactly, did you think you were doing when you opened your mouth and blurted out this particular gem?

Couldn’t you refrain from throwing Autism into the mix of something that is already tremendously horrible?  Couldn’t you help yourself and pull back before planting the minuscule seed of doubt and prejudice in impressionable people?  Don’t we have enough to contend with as is?

Oh, I know your son has Aspergers.  I hope he, too, has thanked you for saying what you did.  Not everyone will wonder if he’s going to go ballistic and kill people, but some out there will.  Those who will are called IGNORANT PEOPLE.  Perhaps in your financially well-off and socially sophisticated circles you don’t have many of them, but those of us out here who shop at the same department store week after week, and live in a community where the average student doesn’t attend the likes of Choate Rosemary Hall in hopes of then attending Yale or Harvard or getting a Fulbright Scholarship to go to Oxford or Cambridge, well…we operate in the real world.  That world, by the way, doesn’t generally understand that our children are not social misfits.

Our children, Mr. Scarborough, are not disconnected from society…they are disconnected even from us, their parents and siblings, and we work pretty hard to help them overcome certain hurdles so that people out there will not judge them based on ignorance and misinformation.  Now, thanks to you, there will be those out there who think that an individual in the Spectrum, who has finally learned enough life skills and self-help skills to live on their own, might…just might…perhaps…collect weapons and kill innocents because of their social disconnectedness.  You have, in public and for all to hear, made SOCIOPATHY synonymous with AUTISM.

Thanks for nothing.  Thanks for opening a window of doubt regarding what my son is capable of in the small minds of people who will take your word as gospel or who will say “hey, that Scarborough guy should know because his son has Aspergers.  He works with Autism Speaks, doesn’t he?  So he MUST KNOW!”

Look, Mr. Scarborough, J walks around with boxing gloves.  What do you think people have been wondering about that all this time?  If I had to explain before, now I have to explain more.  J has had behavioral issues, and he was self-injurious and frustrated and grunted like a wounded animal.  The weird looks we get are not going to get any less weird because now you, Joe Scarborough, have laid the groundwork for those who want to think that our children are potential sociopaths.

I hope your son’s mother yelled at you.  I really do.  I couldn’t yell at you because I don’t know you, but I would have.  I hope she was mortified by your insensitivity.  I hope you are getting a barrage of e-mails and phone calls.  I hope your son’s psychiatrist, therapists, teachers, and so forth call you and tell you that what you said was unfair and not very helpful.

Perhaps in your “brewed by Starbucks” world, your son doesn’t feel different from his peers.  Perhaps you don’t have to jump through hoops to help your child adjust and adapt and learn and integrate to the surrounding community.  You are, perhaps, lucky that way…your son is -what was it that you called it?- “young, white male, probably from an affluent neighborhood, disconnected from society.”     

The thing is, Mr. Scarborough, that not every autistic individual is young, white, male, from an affluent neighborhood…a lot of them are just run-of-the-mill folks from different walks of life, ethnic backgrounds, ordinary neighborhoods.  That they are “disconnected from society” is part of their condition, not a personal choice.  Most of our kids go to public schools, and not in fancy school districts…just in regular ones.  You know which ones…the ones where you have to send extra paper towels, toilet paper, boxes of tissue and maybe even reams of copier paper to help sustain all that stuff that goes on in the classroom.  Our fundraisers are not so the kids can go to Europe in the spring…they are so we can get extra equipment for the classrooms…

The people impacted by Autism, at least the ones in this household, would appreciate if you shut your trap and didn’t think yourself an expert.  None of us are, sir, even though we sure as heck try to learn as much as we can…

Going back to the Real World now…

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