The one thing that I despise the most in some parents of special needs children is the woe-is-me attitude. You can find that clearly on display with the interview in the New Yorker with Adam Lanza's father Peter.
Here you have a father who completely abdicated his responsibilities toward his child and somehow you are supposed to feel sorry for him. Oh Adam was difficult. They didn't know what to do. His marriage was falling apart. He attributed issues to his ex-wife's jealousy towards his new marriage. He attributed his failed first marriage to the fact that he had a poor male role model growing up. One psychiatrist was enough. One work up was enough. Homeschooling was the answer. Asperger's was all they needed to hear since it was an easy answer. One GRASP meeting was sufficient. He spoke with some self-advocates. He didn't try hard enough to see Adam. Excuse after excuse after excuse. It is a self-serving revolting spectacle that bespeaks a selfish and self-centered man who took the easy way out towards his son's dire mental health situation. Oh and don't forget it really is all Adam's mother's fault, she told him not to come to the house to see Adam. He did get email updates that seemed to concern him though, not that he seemed to act on anything. But nothing at all, either in his failed marriage, or the decent of his mentally ill son into psychosis, was or is his fault. Peter Lanza is quite frankly in colloquial terms, a douchebag.
The Lanza's were not poor people. This man is not without means. If after the diagnosis Adam was not getting better you go to another doctor. You change doctors. You seek and seek and seek answers. You go around the globe if you need to to find the answers no one has for you. Instead this man ran away. Leaving an ill-equipped women, who was also in denial, alone to handle a youngman who was progressively getting worse.
One of the more telling aspects of this interview is how Peter Lanza describes the other children in Adam's highschool club. Weird. He kept using the word weird. That Adam fit in that club. How is a child supposed to get help from a parent who sees them as weird? Weird has connotations of disrespect, dismissal and disregard. To call someone "weird" is not a compliment.
As a parent who has searched for answers for help for my children from a myriad of doctors, therapists and professionals nonstop for over two decades; as a parent who did move to get my sons the help they need; as a parent who has gone into so much debt that we will never recover to give the boys what they need to help them along the way; as a parent who is still searching for answers, solutions and appropriate support for my sons; as a parent who is continually advocating for my sons' rights, I find Peter Lanza sickening. He just simply threw up his hands and gave up. That is not something that is acceptable to me on any level.
But even more disturbing in many respects is the fact that Aspergers was simply enough of an answer for them. Aspergers was used as a catchall for Adam's behavior. Perhaps this is why it is best that Aspergers was rolled into autism spectrum disorders, only because it might push parents and doctors to seek out other answers for difficult questions. Autism is merely a different "operating system." It doesn't explain every aspect of why someone does what they do or why they react to the world the way they do. Co-morbid issues abound with autism and it is important that people find a way to parcel out the differences. That is why when you have met one person with autism you have learned only about one person with autism.
As I have written on these pages before; the boys have dealt with OCD, generalized anxiety disorder, ADHD (ADD), language and auditory processing, sensory processing, OT issues, speech delays and pragmatic speech issues, social issues, seizure disorder, tourettes/tics, emotional dysregulation, learning disabilities, depression and dyscalcula at different times in their lives. Each one of these issues comes with their own characteristics and own answers. The aspergers or autism spectrum disorder only means that when these issues are dealt with that they need to be handled in a different manner than if the boys were NT. Oh yeah, that too is the rub isn't it?
People seem to forget that any and all of these issues can occur in a person who is neurotypical. You don't necessarily have autism simply because you have other issues. Don't forget too that many people with autism are also bipolar, schizophrenic and may manifest any other number of psychiatric disorders as well.
If nothing else comes out of this sad interview, for those of us dealing with children with challenges, it is important to remember, that if after working with professionals your child is not getting better, but may actually be getting worse, it is time to seek out new supports and persons with some new ideas even if you don't like what they might be diagnosing for your child. The diagnosis is not what should frighten you. It is leaving your child to deteriorate simply because the easy answers are easier for you to handle emotionally. Your own complacency and acceptance of failure on your child's behalf is what should cause you sleepless nights.
My rule of parenting is simple, especially if your child has special needs, "never give up and never give in" until your child has the life to which they are entitled.
BE BRAVE your child's life and future depends on it.
I want to give a h/t To A Diary of a Mom for bringing this interview to my attention. She is alot more generous to Peter Lanza than I would ever be.
Link to the New Yorker article HERE.