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Special needs parents and their guns

In light of the fact that Adam Lanza’s guns were acquired by taking them from his mother (who was also his first victim), what should parents of special needs children do? Should they eliminate weapons from their homes, leaving themselves vulnerable to home invasions and robberies? Will this benefit them or harm them? What should people know about gun ownership?

The fact is, when a nation gives up its weapons, it becomes subject to tyranny; tyranny from criminals small and large, from the illegal to the elected. When we react instead of responding, we act from emotion instead of reason. Emotion is frequently way off base when it comes to solutions, but reason seldom is. If we are to employ reason, we might look at some of the factors that led to this young man’s atrocious act and subsequent demise. And educate ourselves about safe weapons handling as well as whatever forms of self-defense can be taught and learned.

While his neurological condition was bandied about in the press, it was also reported that he had received no treatment or guidance from others concerning his diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome – which is a form of autism. Anyone with untreated issues can develop quite a bit of frustration and anger, particularly when a communication disorder is present. Add to that social pressures while possessing zero ability to decipher social signals… you have a recipe for either self-harm or outwardly expressed rage.

Learning about the diagnosis your child has and what it means in your child’s specific case is much more important than reading about statistics or comparing your child to “normal” kids or other autistic kids. Each person is unique; there is no cookie-cutter stamped pattern they follow, and try as you might: you can’t force them to do so. You may manage to coax or cajole compliance from your children, but that will not eliminate the resentment that will build every time you make them behave a certain way in order to obtain your approval. Like anyone else, autistic children want to be accepted as they are – flaws and all.

When we start trying to force square, oblong, and triangular pegs into a smooth round hole, it is readily apparent that this is an exercise in frustration. How much more annoying, then, to be the peg? To a child who’s being disciplined for expressing their true feelings or for engaging in behaviors (stimming) which some find to be unacceptable, you are saying: “I won’t love you unless you conform to my standards and the standards of society as I interpret them.”

If you take the time and make the effort, you can discover more about your child than any expert will ever figure out. And you will be rewarded in kind, because when they are understood their frustration level goes down. They are less likely to “melt down” or “act out”. But there is also something which you may never comprehend, and that is the fact that some people on the autism spectrum are so numb that they'll do anything to feel. And when one has no sense of where their bodies end and the rest of the world begins, that can be a source of panic. It can make some bang their heads and others bite their arms until blood is drawn.

Learn, don’t condemn. Compassion, not judgment. And when it comes to weapons and their safe handling, take responsibility. Do what it takes to ensure that they are locked up and accessible only to you or your authorized agent. Take as many courses as possible to learn safe and effective handling of your weapon because one day you may need it to stave off the raving lunatics on a witch hunt for your misunderstood child.

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