Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Understanding Autism; Trying To Understand Adam Lanza

I do not believe any two persons with autism is the same. Their neurological processes may have similar patterns and distinctions, but as individuals each person can be very different.

Adam Lanza, I'm guessing about 8 years old.
So it is with Adam Lanza. His story is being investigated on a global scale. As a professional in the Special Education field, I have questions that no one is asking. Did Adam have current connections with the educational system in his area? Did he have an occupational therapist? Did he have a counselor or psychologist? Did his medical doctor recommend medication? From publicized records, it appears he had no discipline record at school. That would indicate he had not been classified as Emotionally Disturbed and did not have specialized classes in high school; he was able to navigate regular classes with a good GPA. Though he was considered 'odd' or 'different,' he had never even verbally threatened anyone.

I have other questions. Did his mom involve psychologists or other health professionals to counsel Adam in his transition to adulthood? In this state, transition is a really big deal, a separate portion of an IEP. Why was Adam isolated? Here in California, Special Ed. services continue into the twenties. There was no Social Worker from the local SELPA involved? Then mom decided Adam needed to be 'independent' (apparently which meant isolated for days during a major holiday.) How did mom and her friends and family members think of Adam? No one missed seeing Adam on Thanksgiving?

I don't have definitive answers about Adam, his family, and his tragic choices. Journalists are going to continue to dig into his life with the hope of preventing other tragedies.

My main thought right now is to question how Adam and his mother were isolated away from the nuclear and extended family as well as how a student who qualifies for Special Education services goes off the grid.

I have taught autistic students on every level of handicap, from Profoundly Handicapped to mainstreamed into regular classes. When these students would include me in their world through discussion, comment or art, I was very privileged. One student wrote the best Grade 10 essay I've ever read. Another was in a Non-Public School with an additional handicap of Emotional Disturbance. Unique individuals. No single answer for interventions.

Tonight is a PBS Frontline. They're asking questions, too.

Raising Adam Lanza
Coming February 19, 2013

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