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Autistic Kids, Violent Adults

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[Editor's Note: If you have come upon this post in a search related to the December 14, 2012, shooting in Connecticut, please read the list of posts from autism organations, autistic adults, and parents of children with autism attached to my post "Speaking to Your Kids About the Unspeakable" for a broader perspective on this issue.]

"The Monster Inside My Son." That's the title of a Salon article in which writer Ann Bauer pours out her anguish at the violent turn her son's life has taken since he stopped being a beautiful mysterious child with autism and turned in to a hulking aggressive adult. Though she had brief hopes of his cure in the middle-school years, and disregarded warnings that his life might come to this, the monster could not be stopped. "I would hack off my right arm in return for something as simple as cancer," Bauer writes. "The flickering beauty of a sad, pure, too-early death sounds lovely."

Does that mean all kids with autism are doomed to a future of menace and manacles? It's easy to feel, when your child suffers a tragedy, that it is part of a larger truth and something others must be warned about. Writes Bauer, "Autism does not always equal violence. But I do believe there may be a tragic, blameless relationship. ... Circumstances, neurology, size and age combine to create the perfect storm."

Though there's not much as parents we can do about neurology, size, and age, circumstances are to some extent under our control. Bauer describes her son as "living daily in a world where everything hurts and nothing makes sense," and that's a concern for children with autism and other special needs as well. Making the world less hurtful and more sensible for our kids is a challenge that can't always be met -- but as I look at my growing, growing boy, becoming stronger and heavier by the minute, it seems like a pretty urgent priority.

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