Raising autism awareness after CFHS shooting/stabbing - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Raising autism awareness after CFHS shooting/stabbing

By Laura Thomas - bio | email

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - In light of the shooting and stabbing at Carolina Forest High School, WMBFNews wanted to take a look at what someone living with autism goes through.

Last week, Carolina Forest High School was forced into lockdown after a special needs student attacked a school resource officer. Horry County Police say 16-year-old Trevor Varinecz, a junior with a form of autism, stabbed Officer Marcus Rhodes multiple times with two knives.

According to the police report, Rhodes fired at the teen in self defense, hitting him multiple times.

The incident has raised a lot of questions about the form of autism that Trevor Varinecz had.

Robin Brunson knew from an early age, her son Jacob was not like the other children.

"I knew something was different, but I didn't know much about autism," she explained. "Instead of playing with other kids, he would pick up pine straw on the playground when he was little."

At 8 years old, Jacob was diagnosed with autism.

"You're worried about the future and what that will bring, but once you get past that, you just want to do whatever you can to help the situation," she said.

According to the CDC, one in 150 children in the United States has autism.

Jeanne Voltz-Loomis, director of the Child Development Ministry of First United Methodist Church, says autistic children usually have normal language skills and perform just as well, if not better than, other students in school.

"If you were to come into our classroom here, it would be hard for you to tell the child with Asperger from a typically developing child, just as an observer," Voltz-Loomis said, adding most autistic children's problems lie in socializing with others. "They're not able to connect socially or read social cues, [like] facial expressions, for instance."

Experts also stress that early intervention is key, as well as support groups to help those with autism, as well as the families impacted.

Brunson knew the Varinecz family from an autism support group, and she hopes that in some way the events that unfolded Oct. 16 can bring awareness to autism and hopefully acceptance.

"It's very upsetting, and I just hope everybody realizes that this was an isolated case, and he was a good kid," Brunson said. "We don't know exactly what he was thinking and hopefully the schools will realize that they need more support in place for kids like Trevor and my son Jacob."



Previous stories

Copyright 2009 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly