Children with Autism and Shooting

Children with Autism and Shooting

This is a discussion on Children with Autism and Shooting within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I'm a parent of a child with Autism. Not Asperger's syndrome, which, though commonly confused with/labeled as a form of Autism, is a fairly drastically ...

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  1. #1
    Member Array Bardo's Avatar
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    Children with Autism and Shooting

    I'm a parent of a child with Autism.

    Not Asperger's syndrome, which, though commonly confused with/labeled as a form of Autism, is a fairly drastically different disorder. My son is diagnosted with Autism. In many ways, he'a an austistic savant. Less severe than Rain Man... but he shares many common traits with that character.

    I also have guns.

    The events of Sandy Hook Elementary are going to cause a lot of people to question the safety of autistic and aspergers children with guns.

    It's my opinion that the boy had some other additional disorder, because I've never seen an autistic or aspergers child who possessed the ability to do what that man did. Not just from the POV of a violent act... more from the perspective of the planning and thought process required.

    My son has difficulty tying his shoes and crossing the street without getting hit by cars. I can't imagine him driving somewhere and going through all the steps needed to perpetrate that crime.

    WRT the shooter, we may, in the future, find out that while his mom may have had an outwardly friendly demeanor, the boy was abused at home. At least one article I've read interviewed the boys barber where he talks about how the boy never spoke, and his mother jerked him up out of the barber chair when they were done. Maybe this is the barber's embellishment, maybe not. My son LOOOVES to talk... and is a real social butterfly. Awkward? Yes, definitely. Only because he doesn't understand normal social behavior.

    Despite all that, it does give one pause, and being a minority of a minority (gun owner with an autistic child) I'd love to hear from other gun owners with autistic children to hear what your perspective is on this situation, and to hear if you're doing anything differently WRT gun safety.

    For my part, I've taken my son shooting once. He'd become quite curious about guns, and I felt the best way to remove the curiosity was to let him try it safely. So we did. It worked. He's never been curious about them again. But, we also determined he was probably never going to be "safe" with one. Not because he was violent with it, but he simply didn't have the wherewithal and self-discipline to keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.

    So, instead, we chose to teach him the children's gun safety rules: If you find a gun, don't touch it, leave the room, and get a parent. We also keep all the guns secured at all times in the house. There are no guns that are not locked up. It's a bit like having a forever 5 year old child.

    If you're a parent of a child with autism... how do you secure your weapons? Have you ever had cause to be concerned about it? I'd love to hear from you also so that I don't feel quite so alone in this. I'd like to know there are other parents of children with autism and guns who, like us, have never had an issue, and can't imagine there ever would be an issue.

    Anyone?
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  2. #2
    VIP Member Array high pockets's Avatar
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    No children, so no appropriate response. It sounds to me like you are dealing with a difficult situation the best way you can. Good luck with your child, and I hope his training holds. I have observed the behavior of autistic children, at church, and I can really see the lack of attention span in them. I have nothing but admiration for the patience of the parents.

    My thoughts and prayers that all continues to go well with you and yours.
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    Member Array Unkind213's Avatar
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    This is my first post here in a while.

    My 3yr old son was diagnosed with autism Feb of this year. We are having a hard enough time with everything else surrounding the diagnosis without having to deal with a social stigma. The fact is, most people (including myself until recently) simply do not understand what Autism Spectrum Disorder, Asperger's, PDD-NOS, or any related disorder are. Will I take my son shooting one day? Yes. Will I always keep my weapons secured in my safe? I would have done that no matter what. I'm no more concerned about him accessing my weapons than I would be if he did not have a diagnosis.
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  4. #4
    New Member Array Runner6's Avatar
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    It is my understanding also that people with autism aren't necessarily violent. I do have a few friends with children who have been diagnosed with autism. One is non verbal basically- he says hi. That is about all. He needs a "shadow" person with him at all times to keep him from getting into things. He is basically a two year old in a 12 year old's body. He sometimes tried to hurt his younger brothers but that was awhile ago. I don't think it is violence per say, but kind of his way of relating because he can't speak. He can't vent frustrations. He wasn't born that way. He was born normal, and developed normally up until about 2.5. I can't see him driving to a school and doing that either, but he wouldn't have the opportunity either. His parents have someone helping all the time, and they lock the refrigerator so he can't get in there and spill things because he doesn't know better. With that said, if he somehow had a gun, I can't say he would know not to pull the trigger...I don't know if his brain registers between right and wrong. But I don't think his parents would allow him access or would he even know how to gain access to one. But in my non medical opinion I don't believe that Austistic people are necessarily violent. Do they sometimes hurt themselves? Yes, sometimes....I used to work with MR/Dd and developmentally disabled...some were also autistic. Sometimes the medication they took did weird things to them, but I don't know that it was the nature of the autism or the mental retardation that was the cause...
    The person who did this to the people at Sandy Hook was indeed a sick person. He wasn't right in his head. I do not think having any form of autism was the reason he shot 27 people. Or 26.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Array mano3's Avatar
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    My son (13) suffers from Asperger's - he basically is socially awkward (misses social cues), but VERY intelligent and articulate.

    He loves to shoot and has his own .22 rifle that he keeps in his room. The ammo is stored separately, but not for worry about him, I worry about his friends that might get into trouble with it.

    He can shoot all my guns and his favorites are my .40 SIG and SKS rifle. He is very aware of what guns can do and is very safe around them.

    He also feels that this recent stigma on his disorder is pure crap!
    daddysgirl likes this.
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  6. #6
    Member Array JudgeMan's Avatar
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    Children with Autism and Shooting

    My 3.5 yr old son has PDD-NOS. he had extensive therapy trying to get him caught back up. He hit all the milestones until about 2 then just went completely backwards. Although I feel he will be fine when he gets older, I still keep everything locked up. I plan on him being able to hunt and shoot when he reaches the appropriate age. All my long guns stay in my safe, I have a micro vault in my nightstand drawer with a revolver and a tac light in it, my carry gun stays hidden in my vehicle or in my safe when it is not on my person. Hope this helps and hang in there!:)

  7. #7
    New Member Array Duality's Avatar
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    Our 12 year old son is on the Autism Spectrum as well. He is high functioning but still has many challenges as well from social cues, some gross motor skills and sensory issues. Nonetheless, he is an incredibly loving and intelligent boy who will pray for you if you are sick, hurt or sad. We are best buds. He knows we have firearms in the house. He knows Mom and Dad carry to protect us from bad guys (although we made sure he knows that there are more good guys in the world). We did teach him about firearm safety and how dangerous they could be if not handled properly. If we are not carrying (which we do at home as well), our firearms are in a good safe, or secured in hidden quick access vaults. Only my wife and I know the codes/combos to these safes. He really has no additional curiosity about our guns. He attends gun shows with us and is more interested in the flashlights and ceiling fans in the building.
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  8. #8
    Member Array minimalbrat's Avatar
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    After years of not knowing what is wrong with our son, adhd, Asperger's have been tossed around, they are now saying pervasive development disorder nos which falls under the Autistic Spectrum disorder. He was fine until he was about two and then we could see the changes little by little. Because he is very social they just don't know how to diagnose him. Is real nice they are figuring out what is wrong with him at age 25. He doesn't have the violent tendency's just outbursts of temper and those only take the form of yelling. His biggest problems are social cues and sensory things. His hair can't be more than 1/2 inch long, for example lol. He is the shoulder everyone cry's on but no one wants to hang out with if they have something better to do.

    He can't plan an hour ahead let alone plan out everything it would take to do something like mass murder. He also has tourettes. We do have guns in the house and he is very interested. He was in rotc though out high school. Never wanted to do anything but go into the service. When he got out of high school he was told, because of his medications, none of the branches would take him. His father and myself were't surprised but he was floored. I really thought they did a disservice to him by not telling him this all through rotc. We did try to tell him all along but they fed him a line of bull though out the program. We don't leave him alone with the guns. I know he isn't careful enough and something could happen. Things like his first thought isn't to see if a gun is loaded when he picks it up. He assumes it is unloaded. He doesn't always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction even when it is unloaded. These are the same mistakes many make but I don't want to take a chance. This is a scary way to look at guns.
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    New Member Array Moncheche's Avatar
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    Autism and weapons

    I was reading through various articles and happened to see this thread. I am the father of a 12 year old with Autism. He is considered mild to moderate. He has always hated loud noises and firearms were really no exception. When his older brother started shooting trap, he wanted in. My wife and I made the decision 10 years ago (diagnosis) that we would treat all of our children the same way. It's been difficult, but it's been for the best.

    A quick note regarding autism. One can't think of it as a disability like deafness, or blindness. Those disabilities mean one can't see or hear. (obvious, sorry) Autism isn't like that, and you would be hard pressed to find two autistics that are alike. The minute someone tells you they know how to handle 'an autistic child', you know they're full of it. Thankfully, we are all made differently.

    I am not afraid of allowing my son around weapons. I WAS terrified of the thought several years ago, but that was because I hadn't taken the time to actually observe my son to see what he was capable of. Like my other children, he knows firearm safety backwards and forwards. I would trust him with my weapons before some other people!

    I have a short video of him trap shooting. His coaches are remarkable men who show how there are still great people in this world.
    Shooting - YouTube

  10. #10
    VIP Member Array Taurahe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by high pockets View Post
    No children, so no appropriate response. It sounds to me like you are dealing with a difficult situation the best way you can. Good luck with your child, and I hope his training holds. I have observed the behavior of autistic children, at church, and I can really see the lack of attention span in them. I have nothing but admiration for the patience of the parents.

    My thoughts and prayers that all continues to go well with you and yours.
    This here ^^^^^^^

    I too have no children, but have a friend with an autistic daughter. I have seen the stress it puts on him and his family, and I commend you and all parents of children with autism for the patience you have and what you endure. I think you are well on the right path. As far as what you have taught your son and how you have handled the fireams you own, I could not have done it better. You should be proud of yourself for such a well thought out plan. You and your wife know what your son can and cannot handle, and no one else can tell you otherwise. As far as a social stigma, screw society. If brains were gas, most of society couldnt handle a two lap race in a pissants go kart around a cheerio...... keep doing what you are doing, you are doing it right.
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  11. #11
    VIP Member Array Taurahe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moncheche View Post
    I was reading through various articles and happened to see this thread. I am the father of a 12 year old with Autism. He is considered mild to moderate. He has always hated loud noises and firearms were really no exception. When his older brother started shooting trap, he wanted in. My wife and I made the decision 10 years ago (diagnosis) that we would treat all of our children the same way. It's been difficult, but it's been for the best.

    A quick note regarding autism. One can't think of it as a disability like deafness, or blindness. Those disabilities mean one can't see or hear. (obvious, sorry) Autism isn't like that, and you would be hard pressed to find two autistics that are alike. The minute someone tells you they know how to handle 'an autistic child', you know they're full of it. Thankfully, we are all made differently.

    I am not afraid of allowing my son around weapons. I WAS terrified of the thought several years ago, but that was because I hadn't taken the time to actually observe my son to see what he was capable of. Like my other children, he knows firearm safety backwards and forwards. I would trust him with my weapons before some other people!

    I have a short video of him trap shooting. His coaches are remarkable men who show how there are still great people in this world.
    Shooting - YouTube
    Thank you for sharing such a fantastic video !!! truly inspiring.
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  12. #12
    Member Array Sleepnheat's Avatar
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    Thanks for the vid!

    I too have a son, 13, who has Aspergers, a high functioning type of autism. I also have taught him too shoot. To be honest, he has the best gun safety practices out of my family, including some adults.

    Kudos to you sir, and keep up the good work!


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  13. #13
    Member Array BigPony's Avatar
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    To the op, I would just give the same advice I give to anyone with kids - whether autistic or not. Keep your guns locked up in a gun safe that they do not have a key or combination too.

  14. #14
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    I really can't say much, I don't have a child with any of those syndrome's so I don't know. There is a kid that I go to church with that is Autistic. He was adopted from Romania as a small child and it was discovered later he was Autistic. He has his moments, but otherwise is just a person. I'm not certain if he could handle a firearm in a safe manner.

    Another kid that I know comes to watch my musical group perform and has either Asperger's or something like it. He wants to play the drums like I do, so his grandmother (who brings him) is contemplating getting him a snare drum and he is in the band in Middle School. Could this kid shoot a firearm? I really don't know. I have seen him in action and he can't stay focused on things very long so the operation of a firearm might be out of his realm of possibility.

    What I think about this would be each case of a child with any one of these syndrome's needs to be looked at individually. Some may be able to shoot a bit but won't understand the safety behind firearms. I think the risk of something accidental is very great but I don't know the kids involved and have no clue as to how they can or cannot shoot a gun.

    It's a personal decision when dealing with something like this. If you feel your child can do some shooting with a syndrome, then I see nothing wrong, if the supervision of such shooting is always there.
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    Teaching gun safety at any learning level is good . My son will never be able to shoot or handle a gun . But on a very consistant basis i talk to him about guns as well as the foods that he is allergic too . So if he is out with others he knows not to eat certain foods or if a gun is laying around we tell him not to touch it . Even if he could shoot the noise would send him off the deep edge most education in life is free and it will keep you alive everytime . Godspeed to you and your Family .
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