Jennifer and Jeremy instilled an open-mind, open-heart philosophy in Avielle because they know a strong community is one where every member belongs and is a valuable contributor —regardless of ethnicity, beliefs, political views, lifestyle, or social ideologies. In such communities, individuals don’t feel ostracized, stigmatized, bullied, or alienated, and the propensity to act in desperate, destructive, or violent ways is diminished or eliminated. Citizenship in a community goes beyond fitting in — it comes with responsibility. In all the Avielle Foundation does, it’s our belief that we must understand the biological and environmental factors that impact the brain, leading to malevolent behaviors. We must build communities where all individuals are included, given a contributing role, and kept safe.
Therefore, understanding the pathologies is only half the puzzle. Once a deeper understanding has been established (we have understandings of “why”), the application of these insights to prevent aggression and violence is the next step, and community engagement is essential. Based on the understandings of brain pathologies, molecular, genetic, and behavioral diagnostics can be developed – facilitating the key component of early detection of those at-risk of violent and aggressive behavior. Diagnostic tests, much like those for the cancer gene, BRCA1, can be applied. The BRCA1 gene can be detected before breast cancer is in Stage 1 alerting a patient to a potential health threat. For children diagnosed with autism early intensive social/behavioral programs increase the quality of life not only for a child with autism but also for the child’s family. These diagnoses are tangible, taking away the fear of the unknown, and although these diagnoses themselves can be overwhelming, a framework of good information can lead to better outcomes.
We are not our genes, we are not our diseases. Yet knowing that nature has given us these genes affords us the opportunity to act and ensure the healthiest and happiest life for ourselves and our children. Understanding and education diminish fear of the unknown. With this knowledge, policies to facilitate appropriate and responsible behavioral modification, counseling, education, and pharmacological interventions can be established and instituted.