Sometimes a knee jerk reaction to blogging doesn’t capture the appropriate sentiment. Before I descend into a diatribe of the ‘voice’ and the ‘speaker’, I write on something very topical because the strings resound clearly within. I couldn’t blog initially because of my associated grief, but distance and reflection make it possible now.
My heart still resides with the parents and families of those lost in the Sandy Hook massacre. Why it had to happen is something that we can never reconcile and we will never understand.
‘Mental Wealth’ made me think about the innate abilities we have within ourselves, which rely on nature and nurture to make us who we are. The age old debate of nature vs nurture plays a large role in the Adam Lanza debates, because in a case of a tweak in mental health, it is arguable that nurture has a larger role than nature in bringing out the ‘wealth’. A child nurtured in a culture of violence, can manifest extreme activity if without full control of their mental wealth.
ASD and Mental Wealth
I like to view Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) as a rainbow, because for parents facing the huge responsibility to manage their child’s gift, ‘somewhere over the rainbow,’ there is the semblance of perfection that every other parents claims to have. I worry about the ‘mental wealth’ of this debate as it is easy to assume that every child facing the challenges autism presents may be somewhat wired to be the next young violent school sadist. Jodi Picoult’s ‘House Rules’ is a fictional book which reifies a mother who has to manage a child with ASD; characterising how social aberration may be misconstrued as violent, a striking example of when lack of communication at certain times does not mean brewing social violence. It will be very sad if what comes out of the Lanza case is a further misunderstanding of ASD.
Instead this is an opportunity to spend more time researching and striving to manage the condition a bit better. In a very simplistic way it is possible to have mental health issues with or without ASD, mental health issues will probably be easier to detect with a child with full mental wealth versus a child on the ASD spectrum who is able to conceal certain thoughts and actions because of the inability to communicate as accurately as possible. A combination of ASD and other mental health issues is a dimension that needs to be explored further.
My initial reaction was that Adam Lanza reminded me of Kevin the fictional character in Shriver’s ‘We need to talk about Kevin’. The similarity was uncanny because I questioned why when parents with an unmanageable explosive ‘mental wealth’ child, could not seek state support to assist with the challenges they faced. Comparison was obviously not exact as Kevin was a minor and Adam not anymore, however both stories reflected the fact that parents require robust support.
A comparison of the mental wealth across three continents was something I tasked myself with once I heard the news and it made me realise how difficult it is to qualify a learning disability combined with a mental disorder. The difficulty in the US, having interviewed a praticising physician is that the mental health laws are very basic, so once you can take care of yourself and will not harm yourself, the state bears no responsibility over you, or the debate surrounding your well being. I think this is also the time for laws from Europe to influence the mental health laws in the US. There is an avid debate in Scotland for example to exclude individuals on the Autistic spectrum from the definition of mental health laws which enables the Scottish state to ‘incarcerate that person or enforce medication under the Mental Health Act’. The debate in Scotland is literally that ASD is a learning disability and not a mental disability. However I think what all countries have to debate and research on balance, is what happens when someone on the ASD spectrum has a further chemical imbalance, how can this be detected and supported. This is where the research should begin, and on this topic the citizenry should be educated, the point at which we can all ask more questions and learn.
To lose a child is like to lose a part of your soul that will never be replaced. Rest in Peace little angels, I hope your families find peace on earth. Celebrated teachers were lost to protect you, may their families find comfort too. For all the kids left behind who have dealt with the trauma, may they find healing.
PS I applaud Piers Morgan and his contribution to the ongoing Gun Laws debate, this is a case of geopolitical influence where positive thoughts and laws from Europe can influence the US political landscape.