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Looking at terrorism with my autistic daughter - Warning may cause offence

GeoarkGeoark Posts: 1,139Community champion Pioneering
First of all my sympathies to those who have died and their families, and my prayers for those who have been injured in last nights attack.

As I have mentioned my daughter works in a London store and regularly travels through London Bridge and Westminster. As a teenager she loved going to concerts, often on her own or with a friend so the recent terrorist attacks is something that has been playing on her mind. The day of the Westminster attack I met her at work, last night she was worried about going to work.

While humour is not appropriate at times like this I have always found it an effective way to get past her fears. Not the type of humour which trivialise what has happened, the loss of life or those who suffer but aimed squarely at the terrorists. And no I don't intend to share any of that humour here.

The problem as I see it is that their power comes not from what they do but the fear they cause which makes us stop and rethink our plans, to look at those around us and suspect them, and to turn us onto one another. We aid that process by dehumanising them, and turning them into monsters. It works pretty much the same way as humour does when it is focussed on a minority group or disabled people, creating stereotypes that the general public then buy into. It can also changes the way we think about people creating assumptions and prejudices.

In the same way I use humour to remove their power to cause fear in my daughter so that she sees them as ineffective and lacking intelligence, but able to cause harm to others. At the moment she is getting ready to go to work, trying to figure out how she is going to get around the inconvenience of station closures and diverted buses.

It has the added value that once the power of fear has been removed we can look at some of the other issues. One of the important ones is what she can do to keep herself safe if she ever finds herself caught up in something like this. This includes looking at distressing footage on TV and talking about what people might be doing wrong and how she could do things differently.

After the Manchester incident one of the topics which came up was the internment of 3000 people who have come to the attention of intelligence services. Why so many people found it an attractive proposition, but also if she wanted to live in a country where armed police or the army come in the middle of the night with guns to take people away. Years of being locked away with most of their human rights removed and no judicial review. What the long term effects would be on such communities and if it would truly make our country safer in the long run.

So while there is power in fear, there is also power in humour.

As an individual I stood alone.
As a member of a group I did things.
As part of a community I helped to create change!

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