One of the many unfortunate consequences of the horrific slayings at Sandy Hook Elementary School has been an intermittent media campaign to spread cruel misinformation about people with Autism Spectrum Disorders. On Tuesday night’s Anderson Cooper 360, Newtown mom Nicole Hockley, whose 6 year-old son Dylan Hockley was killed on that darkest of days, helped to undo some of that damage by talking to host Anderson Cooper about her slain son’s autism, and the beautiful qualities he possessed, qualities which belie the stereotypes that have been spread by some in the media.
There has been a lot of bad reporting on the fact that the Newtown shooter allegedly had an Autism Spectrum Disorder called Asperger’s Syndrome, but very little attention paid to the fact that two of his victims, Dylan Hockley and Josephine Gay, also had ASDs. Nicole Hockley mentioned it during the 60 Minutes interview with the Newtown families, and she mentioned it as a positive. “He was always smiling, and always laughing,” she told interviewer Scott Pelley, “And he was very pure, possibly because of his age – he was six – and possibly because he was autistic.”Christopher also discussed Anderson Cooper's interview with her:
“He loved looking at the moon at night,” Nicole continued, “and he ate spaghetti with his fingers. He was a very loving and empathetic little boy. He was autistic, and so had some learning difficulties and some social interaction difficulties, but he was a joy in our family, and I miss him terribly.”
Dylan’s parents have established Dylan’s Wings of Change, a charitable project “dedicated to provide support for children with autism and other special needs, committed to positive change for the future.”
Josephine Gay’s family has set up “Joey’s Fund” through the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism, to help families raising autistic children.