Many people will be writing and speaking about the horror that happened in Connecticut in the morning hours of last Friday. No words could possibly express the depth of my sorrow for these families — it’s beyond description. The loss of these children is life-altering for any of us who are parents.
Our children need help. The young man who committed this massacre (and no need to mention him nor any diagnoses being tossed around) had been suffering for years. Many children are. No excuses but rather a wake-up call.
For the past 14 years, I’ve been working with parents of children with a host of hidden disabilities. Children who have been struggling at school and home. Children who have found themselves in psychiatric wards…involved with law enforcement…taken from their homes by their own parents who are no longer able to care for them. Despite doing everything humanly possible to help them and often for months and years, they encounter obstacles, lack of access, limited resources…the list is endless. Parents wear out but keep trying. Or stop trying because they just can’t do it any longer. They are doing everything possible but often, it’s not enough. And the children suffer.
As a society, we must raise the volume of discussion about mental health issues. But that’s not enough. We have to do everything possible to help parents access whatever supports are needed for their children. A 7-year-old who is struggling becomes a 14-year-old who is struggling unless this child receives support, services, and whatever else is needed to help them. It is our responsibility to ensure that this is a priority.
Many parents don’t tell their stories. They’re afraid of rejection or disapproval. They’re afraid of what might happen to their children if people *knew* what was happening in their homes and lives. I’ve heard countless numbers of these stories from parents with desperation in their eyes and voices. And today I’m worried for the thousands of children and their parents for whom Asperger’s Syndrome is part of their daily existence.
As we all grieve for this unspeakable tragedy and discuss gun control and mental health issues, we must also look around at the families and parents we know…at the children we know or love, and support them with everything we have so that these children — regardless of their age — have the chance to heal and be well. I’m not naive enough to believe that everyone with a diagnosis can be healed, but I do know that many, many children and teenagers who are suffering and struggling *can* move from the darkness into the light if they are able to receive the supports they need. Don’t we owe this to all our children? Please…we must help our children.