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Resources to Assist You and Your Children in Coping

December 19th, 2012

Newton Connecticut,December 14, 2012

by Marion Walsh, Esq.

Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families in Connecticut who have lost loved ones. The Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton could have been any school in the country and the tragedy affects everyone.  Clearly, we must all come together as a nation to address the issues that have led to this tragedy. But at this time, we should focus of our attention on the children and school staff who have lost their lives to senseless violence.

We know that families are struggling to process this tragedy that has occurred so close to home.  Everyone must stay calm and remind our children that our schools are generally very safe places.

We ask that this tragedy not become an excuse to stereotype or discriminate against students with disabilities.   In the aftermath of the shooting, unsubstantiated reports indicate that the gunman had Asperger’s syndrome or a “developmental disorder” and was shy and withdrawn. According to the Mayo Clinic: “Asperger’s syndrome is a developmental disorder that affects a person’s ability to socialize and communicate effectively with others. Children with Asperger’s syndrome typically exhibit social awkwardness and an all-absorbing interest in specific topics.”  A diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome or autism does not make one more prone to violent acts.   With appropriate support and services, children with Asperger’s thrive and can make incredible contributions to our society.

Slowly, we will begin to heal and have the time and the courage to confront the serious issues that led to this tragedy.  We will have time to make schools safer for all.   We will have time to fight against the culture of violence that has permeated our country.  We will have time to ensure the right understanding, supports, and services are in place for all children.  We will have time to address the mental health crisis affecting many of our young people. But for now, we need to mourn those lost and wait for answers and the truth.

Here are some resources to assist you and your children in coping:

  • The National Association of School Psychologists — Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers
  • American Academy of Pediatrics – Resources to Help Parents, Children and Others Cope in the Aftermath of School Shootings
  • The National Association of School Psychologists — A National Tragedy: Helping Children Cope
  • American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry – Children and Grief
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