I had only been loosely following this story of WWE Professional Wrestler Chris Benoit's Families awful murder/suicide. I thought to myself, what a tragedy and I can never understand why or how people can do this. I have watched with intrigue as the media has already made this issue all about "Roid Rage". Then I got really upset when Fox News discussed tonight that the Benoit's son was their RETARDED SON!
Well needless to say I raised right up on the couch for a number of reasons.
1. First I bristled at the reference to "retarded son". Actually I more then bristled and for those that know me know I am a "Pit Bull" when it comes to person first and appropriate language when discussing individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities. And as I usually do I picked up the phone and called FOX News to let them know my displeasure and encouraged them to contact The Arc of The United States to learn more about properly reporting on individuals with disabilities.
2. The constant discussion of "Roid Rage"! Is there abuse of steroids in sports? You bet your ass there is. And if you think it's stopped in any sport due to testing then you are kidding yourself. Steroids control sports from the high school level all the way thru professional sports. Let's face it you don't grow 6'7 300 pound offensive lineman in Iowa from eating corn on the cob. So let's get over the fact that my god this man may have been doing steroids....I am sure he was! I played football in college and was around "JUICE" all the time. I have seen "Roid Rage" and some of the effects but bottom line there is no real information about long term results and the effect on individuals. A perfect example is Lyle Alzado died from supposed steroid abuse and Arnold Schwarzenegger become Governor of California. So I hope the media can dig a little deeper on this issue.
3. Then I sat back down and was quickly overcome by a pit in my stomach. Could this be more about their son then the other issues they were discussing. I did some quick research and discovered that this young man had Fragile X syndrome. What I found was that Fragile X is the leading cause of inherited mental impairment (what I refer to as intellectual disability and some may refer to as mental retardation). The pit in my stomach got a little bigger and I knew I needed to come share some thoughts or I would be awake all night.
As I sit here I wonder what caused this man with so many great things going on in his life to commit this tragic act? Was it related to drugs? Was it related to alcohol? Was it related to marital problems? Or was it something to due with how his son's disability was effecting him or his family?
What I do know is the one regret I have from when those original 8 of us started and made it an D.A.D.S.acronym for Dads Appreciating Down Syndrome is I wish we would have made it non disability specific. It works very well the way it is but this pit in my stomach tells me I wish I would have been there for this man. I have no idea how the other wrestlers around him where with his son, I am sure they were great but did they understand...I bet not. I am sure they understood the pressure of their career's and marriage etc but add the disability of your loving son and the fact that he inherited it from you.............wow....I have no idea if this had any ting to do with the decisions Mr. Benoit made over the weekend and I never will.
All I do know is life is tough, careers are tough, marriage is tough and a very high percentage of marriages that include a child with a disability end in divorce...a way too high number....
Some how we have to reach out to other DADS and let them know that no matter whether it's Down syndrome, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Fragile X or (fill in the blank) we are out here man...reach out....talk to us....lean on us...let us carry you for awhile if we need to....but we are here....we are bonded as brothers in a fraternity we never set out to join. We understand it....We get it....
My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the Benoit family tonight.