April 19, 2007

Cho Seung-Hui Reportedly Diagnosed With Autism as a Child

From the first time we heard that, "he didn't talk at all and kept to himself", we all thought Asperger's, but no way was I going to say it first. My mind immediately went to the murder/suicide perpetrated by young man with Asperger's in Orange County about a year and a half ago.

It is clear that he had many additional problems, and all of us cringe at the thought of this man being any way associated with autism, but if he had autism, we need to take a good hard look at his life and learn what ever we can from it so that we can help those with autism that we care for. Was he toxic, was he bullied, did he get any appropriate interventions or support after his diagnosis at all?

His life is a cautionary tale that we all should learn from with humility.

AutismLink Reacts to Diagnosis of Autism in Virginia Tech Shooter

PITTSBURGH, April 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AutismLink and
Autism Center of Pittsburgh Director Cindy Waeltermann today issued a
statement regarding the recent revelation that Virginia Tech shooter Cho Seung-
Hui was diagnosed with autism as a child.
"While the entire autism community in Pittsburgh and across the nation are devastated by the recent events at Virginia Tech, we would like to caution the public not to stigmatize children or individuals with autism.

Cho likely did not receive the help and support that he needed early on -- that is why early intervention is so important, and that is why places like the Autism Center of Pittsburgh exist. The act of one individual should not reflect upon the entire autistic population.

It is unfair to blame Cho's actions on autism when he was clearly psychologically impaired and likely had another disorder in addition to his autism. His psychological evaluations apparently revealed a dark history that concluded that he was an imminent danger to himself and others and was also depressed.

This is a wake up call that stresses the importance of early intervention, research, and appropriate treatment strategies. Many strides have been made in autism spectrum disorders and research has consistently shown that when children receive the help that they need early on they are more likely to become more adept at social and communication skills.

Autism affects 1 in 150 children and is now the most commonly diagnosed developmental disability in the world. It is time to recognize autism for the epidemic it is."

8 comments:

jonathan said...

i am a 51 year old man with mild autism, 8 year veteran of special education and I think it is appalling that people with an interest in autism claiming that there are quick fixes would exploit this tragedy in this way. The post seems to contradict itself first attributing the shooter's lack of early intervention autism services to the shooting then says he obviously had something else going on. Can't really have it both ways. Also, assuing the shooter was autistic do these people really know what interventions he had and did not have as a child and whether or not they made a difference.

Ginger said...

Jonathan,

No attempt at exploitation here.

Actually it is a call to not make any snap judgments, but to take a good long look at his life and learn what lessons it has to offer.

Just asking questions really.

At this point we don't really know anything for sure.

I am sorry if my post gave the impression that I had answers for all this.

From the depth and complexity of his mental illness, it think it will be hard to attribute what he did to any one thing, which is why I think that his life needs to be studied with humility.

Thanks for your comments.

Eric said...

I find it appalling that a possible cause of this man's actions is being attributed to child autism! Perhaps we should look closer at the way people who don't fit are ostrecised by his peers and in general society?

Anonymous said...

This is important... when this child was diagnosed, there were a lot less treatments available than now. This is a cautionary tail of what can happen when children and families are not supported. I am interested to see what kinds of treatment he had, etc. There have also been recent stories about how children with Aspergers and Autism are abused at school. Maybe people will begin to think about their actions.

Lisa said...

Thank you so much for this opportunity to comment.

I am a mother of a nine year old boy with Aspergers and the first thing I thought about when I heard about Seung-Hui was "another case of a child going unrecognized/unsupported ends in tragedy".

I'm not a doctor, and I'm not trying to diagnose, but what I have experienced over the past five years with my now 9 year old boy diagnosed with Aspergers gives me the understanding of HOW something like Virginia Tech, Columbine, Sudbury Massachusettes happens. It also allows me the opportunity to comment on our culture and the perversion of shows like American Idol who this year stepped way over bounds in their attempts at comedy.

What we have experienced in the public school system and with the insurance companies in regard to our son has been nothing less than criminal. The effort (and cash) we have had to put into fighting for him to get what he needs and is entitled to under federal law has badly impacted our family.

Do families with children with other diseases have to jump through hoops like this?

The most disturbing thought in all of this is that these children, who's brains are wired so differently and are left to flounder among the masses, eventually get blamed for their own disability and the behavior that results from it.

Yes, Seung-Hui did something very dispicable. But we need to study where the break down is truly occuring and learn from it before more events like this take place.

Anonymous said...

If Cho Seung-Hui had autism that is no excuse for being the monster he was. I have autism. I was born in the 1960's at a time in the United States when absolutely NO early Autism specific professional intervention services were available. I was not diagnosed with autism until 1968 and then only because, my grandmother kept the pressure on the local medical establishment till they found the answer for my problems. Even with the diagnosis my doctors had nothing to offer me growing up.

When I was growing up people at school were nothing less than sadistic in torturing me. Until I could get away from my tormenters I had to just deal with the pain they caused me as best I could. I often had to leave home and go shopping after school just to avoid the torture of neighborhood children.

In time as I entered high school as an autistic child grew to hate all humanity. I was antisocial to the maximum so in some ways I understand Cho Seung-Hui's situation. My grandparents however saw that I was becoming extremely antisocial and they started making me aware of it. My grandfather, grandmother and family started talking to me intensely forcing me to confront my antisocial natures drives and desires to hurt others.

Over time I learned from television shows like Star Trek and Lucan that had easily understood possible moral messages how to build a moral guide. It was not easy to overcome the years of antisocial patterns I suffered with over the years. I needed psychatric and psychological help to overcome my most vexing antisocial issues. Indeed it was not until after I almost killed a man over $5 he stole from me that I realized violence was a drug like toxin in my life I had to be rid of.

I had to learn to manage my antisocial tantrums and it took me 38 years to do so. Cho Seung-Hui was a smart man, his presence in University proves that. I went to college as well and there having to work in teams with others and other challenges forced me to face and manage my antisocial autism tantrum related issues. Cho Seung-Hui was smart enough to know he needed help. Good mental health help is so hard to come by once you reach adult age like Cho Seung-Hui and I.

I tried to get autism specific autism related help and I have good health insurance and I still could not get help. Most autism related help is aimed at helping chiildren so where do adult autistics like Cho Seung-Hui and I go if we need help functioning in a hostile world.

There is no excuse for what Cho Seung-Hui did. Murder is always horrible but this society shares full responsibility with Cho Seung-Hui since it does not offer psychological help to autistic adults in need. Before you blame autistic adults society must make resources available so we can get professional help before things take tragic turns.

Try getting autism specific help as an adult and you will find in most places none exists and those painfully few professionals who see autistic adults are not taking new patients. Cho Seung-Hui was wrong and evil for murdering all those people but, if Cho Seung-Hui had autism society is equally to blame because, it offers no help to autistic adults in need. Until society offers professional help and support for autistic adults the next tragic murder caused by an autistic adult in need of professional help will happen again and again and again and again! Please create support programs for autistic adults.

Wolf said...

If Cho Seung-Hui had autism that is no excuse for being the monster he was. I have autism. I was born in the 1960's at a time in the United States when absolutely NO early Autism specific professional intervention services were available. I was not diagnosed with autism until 1968 and then only because, my grandmother kept the pressure on the local medical establishment till they found the answer for my problems. Even with the diagnosis my doctors had nothing to offer me growing up.

When I was growing up people at school were nothing less than sadistic in torturing me. Until I could get away from my tormenters I had to just deal with the pain they caused me as best I could. I often had to leave home and go shopping after school just to avoid the torture of neighborhood children.

In time as I entered high school as an autistic child grew to hate all humanity. I was antisocial to the maximum so in some ways I understand Cho Seung-Hui's situation. My grandparents however saw that I was becoming extremely antisocial and they started making me aware of it. My grandfather, grandmother and family started talking to me intensely forcing me to confront my antisocial natures drives and desires to hurt others.

Over time I learned from television shows like Star Trek and Lucan that had easily understood possible moral messages how to build a moral guide. It was not easy to overcome the years of antisocial patterns I suffered with over the years. I needed psychatric and psychological help to overcome my most vexing antisocial issues. Indeed it was not until after I almost killed a man over $5 he stole from me that I realized violence was a drug like toxin in my life I had to be rid of.

I had to learn to manage my antisocial tantrums and it took me 38 years to do so. Cho Seung-Hui was a smart man, his presence in University proves that. I went to college as well and there having to work in teams with others and other challenges forced me to face and manage my antisocial autism tantrum related issues. Cho Seung-Hui was smart enough to know he needed help. Good mental health help is so hard to come by once you reach adult age like Cho Seung-Hui and I.

I tried to get autism specific autism related help and I have good health insurance and I still could not get help. Most autism related help is aimed at helping chiildren so where do adult autistics like Cho Seung-Hui and I go if we need help functioning in a hostile world.

There is no excuse for what Cho Seung-Hui did. Murder is always horrible but this society shares full responsibility with Cho Seung-Hui since it does not offer psychological help to autistic adults in need. Before you blame autistic adults society must make resources available so we can get professional help before things take tragic turns.

Try getting autism specific help as an adult and you will find in most places none exists and those painfully few professionals who see autistic adults are not taking new patients. Cho Seung-Hui was wrong and evil for murdering all those people but, if Cho Seung-Hui had autism society is equally to blame because, it offers no help to autistic adults in need. Until society offers professional help and support for autistic adults the next tragic murder caused by an autistic adult in need of professional help will happen again and again and again and again! Please create support programs for autistic adults.

I do well now. I have a nice job. I have learned to like people well enough to work with them. I have the odd tantrum every now and then but they do not escalate to antisocial levels because I work hard to manage them. I do well finding ways to manage my autism but it is NO THANKS TO THIS CRUMMY SOCIETY I WHERE ADULT AUTISTICS IN TROUBLE HAVE NO WHERE TO TURN! Then when one of us lose it we are the monsters. Yes we are monsters when autistics kill but, we live in a society of monsters who provide no professional support services to adult autistics and whose fault is that!

Anonymous said...

I want to start out by letting the families know I am truly sorry for your loss. I heard someone is selling Cho Seung-Hui letter he wrote as well as his video. I want to know why make money off of this "MORON" don't you have any respect for the families. I hope the seller of these items and I never meet for he or she will know the meaning of "Rehabilitaion".