Archive for December, 2012


It is often the rule that in the hours immediately following a tragedy such as the shooting in Newtown, CT that the media report erroneous information as the scramble to delineate the tragedy’s parameters intensifies. Sometimes that erroneous information can cause grave harm to innocent people, and such is the potential with early reports that the shooter, Adam Lanza, may have had autism or Asperger’s disorder.

Whether or not the shooter resided somewhere on the autism spectrum, autism is in no way causal in this situation. How people are treated by other people is what leads to the isolation, alienation, and despair that drives people to these all-too-frequent acts of unimaginable violence.

In no other school shooting or mass murder has the autism spectrum been invoked as a causal factor. That’s noteworthy.

As the father of a son on the autism spectrum, I speak from painful and joyful experience. Joseph is thirteen years old and doing marvelously, as I’ve written about here on the blog. In February Joseph will be awarded the rank of Star in the Boy Scouts (having achieved the ranks of Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class). This places him two ranks from Eagle Scout, which he’s on track to achieve by age 16.

Joseph also dances Irish Step, Street Tap, and Jazz. I’m also Joseph’s baseball coach, and biggest cheerleader in his competitive bowling, for which he received the bronze medal for boys 11 and under in New York State. Joseph is also an altar boy in our parish. He’s very involved in good and wholesome activities and is always the first to volunteer for service projects.

That last point is key and needs to be discussed.

It is true that people on the autism spectrum have difficulty in empathy for others. But empathic behavior is not impossible and can be taught through social skills activities and training. Also, involvement in social groups and functions is essential, and not optional. Even if empathy is slow to come online, the idiosyncratic focus that many with Asperger’s have on rules can be used to great effect in ordering the social interactions of these children. Respect for the property and rights of others can be taught as rules to be followed as we wait for empathic sensibilities to develop.

We have a large bubble of teens on the spectrum, and an even larger bubble of children on the spectrum behind them who are going to need gainful employment, as any other citizen. It is vital, VITAL, that employers not walk away from this episode with some vague and erroneous understanding that people on the autism spectrum represent a danger to the public.

They don’t.

There is a sweetness to most of these children, and with proper placement into wholesome (often faith-based) social groups where there is genuinely patient forbearance, they will grow as teens with a sense of rootedness and belonging. In this, their needs are no different than those of their neurotypical peers.

The evil visited on my friends’ community yesterday was in no way rooted in the autism spectrum. It was rooted in the coarsening to life that has gripped this nation for decades. That’s a discussion for another day, and it will not happen here on this blog while there are so many yet to be buried.

For now, it’s enough to say that our children on the autism spectrum call forth the best in us and are a blessing in our lives. They need to be embraced, now more than ever, lest they become additional victims of one man’s evil.

Join our Novena for Healing:

Day 1 Here.

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Each one lovely, unique, and irreproducible; wildflowers and people alike. Today the unthinkable happened, and as I sat only half-listening to the news as I worked, I couldn’t imagine the connection between a shooting somewhere in Connecticut and Sandy Hook across the bay from me in New Jersey. Then the sickening reality hit me that the news was discussing my Godson’s school in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. Blessedly, he’s beyond the fourth grade and in a different school.

When I called their home, Rachelle’s very first words were, “The children are alright.”

But they won’t be, really. Anyone in Sandy Hook and Newtown. Terror is yielding to exhaustion and numbness tonight. Today was just the first of several convulsions that will roil that community for the next two weeks as the tiny bodies are waked and buried; as the teachers who no doubt did all they could are also laid to rest; as the gunman too is consigned to the earth.

Then will come the hard work of healing the gaping wounds in minds, hearts, and souls who have suffered the greatest of all social betrayals: the targeting of children, most of whom were still babies in kindergarden. Unspeakable evil.

Beginning tomorrow night tonight, (Saturday) the Coming Home family will gather at 8 PM for nine nights to lift up our extended family in Sandy Hook and Newtown in a Novena to Our Lady of Lourdes for Healing.

No words can ever console or assuage the grief that is beyond description. However, our prayers will lift the community up and aid in giving them strength in this, their greatest hour of trial. When you visit each night, please leave your well-wishes in the comments box, I assure you, the folks there will see them.

For now, tonight while the bodies still lie in the school, we keep vigil with all of Sandy Hook and Newtown.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let Perpetual Light shine upon them.

May they rest in peace. Amen.

Novena: Day 1 here.


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During his three terms as Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg has shown an arrogance so imperious that he exists in a class all his own. He will be remembered as the mayor who was so concerned for the health and well-being of New Yorkers that he:

* Outlawed the sale of trans fats in any food sold in the city.

* Pushed for and obtained a ban on soda cups larger than 16 oz. at fountains.

* Raised taxes on cigarettes pushing the price of a pack to $12.

* Outlawed any smoking at all in bars.

* Mandated that all eating establishments, from Dunkin’ Donuts to 5-star restaurants list the caloric content of every menu item next to that item.

* Pulled all soda machines from public schools.

* Refused corporate food donations to city homeless shelters because the sodium, fat and fiber content of that food can not be verified.

etc, etc… The list goes on. Get the details in this great article.

Since New Yorkers can’t be trusted to care for their own health and eating habits, Mayor Mike will do it for us, even if it means less food for the homeless, food left over from corporate executive functions.

However, according to the city and state vital statistics data, from 2002 when Bloomberg took office, until the end of 2010 (2011, 2012 data are not yet available), 798,280 babies were slaughtered in their mother’s wombs in New York City. Extrapolating from those data, the number of intentionally killed babies will climb to over 1 Million by the time our health-conscious mayor leaves office. Get the numbers from Table 23 here and table 4.19 here.

That seems to be one choice that Mayor Mike feels comfortable leaving in the citizen’s hands, and so he has presided over nearly a million deaths, not passively, but enthusiastically. Lest we forget, two years ago the Mayor supported Bill 371 and signed it into law, a bill mandating onerous signage restrictions on pregnancy centers meant to keep women away.

I was there and gave testimony about the fact that 79% of all abortions in NYC are had by blacks and hispanics. In 2010 that percentage rose to 82.5%. Evidently those numbers are okay with the mayor. More than 1,200 abortions for every 1000 live births in the black community and not a word from the same mayor who won’t let the homeless share, literally, the same meals eaten by New York’s executives and donated to shelters.

Of course, Mayor Mike really doesn’t believe in the whole bodily autonomy mantra behind abortion, as indicated by his record of regulating what we put into our bodies at the lunch counter. He also doesn’t really believe in bodily autonomy for women in reproductive physiology either.

Bloomberg has pushed for hospitals to lock up baby formula and push women to breastfeed instead. If women request formula, they must first endure a state-encouraged lecture on the merits of breast milk. Such lectures at a time of rapidly changing hormonal levels and concomitant emotional fluxes, physical exhaustion from labor or C-section, are coercive. They also do not respect the choices made by women in the weeks and months prior to delivery: choices often made in conjunction with the babies’ fathers, obstetricians and pediatricians, and those who will be providing care when mother returns to work.

No such public health initiative on the many health risks inherent in abortion, of uterine scarring, infertility, hemorrhaging, damage to surrounding organs, infection, death, etc.

It’s beyond madness.

It’s perverse.

It’s what has become of a once-great political party.

Freedoms are stripped while license is promoted as freedom. It’s a tragic legacy, almost one million dead without a word of his famous admonitions, his pontifications on population health. An aging billionaire mayor who never addressed the despair of the black and hispanic communities, a despair so great that their share of New York’s abortions has risen to 82.5% of New York’s total in the last year for which data are available. What a lost opportunity. The mayor who fiddled while New York burned.

We can do better for our black and hispanic brethren. Who will lead?

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