Asperger’s Syndrome Not To Blame For Newtown Tragedy So Don’t Start Maligning Autistic Kids

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shutterstock_116347486Adam Lanza had been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, an official that has chosen to stay anonymous has been quoted as saying. This mild form of autism can include outbursts, shoving or angry shouting, but typically does not include planned, intentional violence. We are all looking for a reason as to why Adam Lanza killed twenty six children and adults on Friday, but autism or Asperger’s syndrome can’t be to blame for this. People who knew Adam personally have described him as being painfully shy and socially awkward, a loner who was more interested in video games than socializing with peers. We don’t even know for certain if Adam was afflicted with this condition, and we need to be careful about making this diagnosis without knowing all of the facts.

Asperger’s syndrome, which is generally believed to be under-diagnosed, affects approximately two to three people out of every 1,000, with males being diagnosed 4-6 times more than females. From Health Us News:

“There really is no evidence that links autism or Asperger’s to violence,” said Geraldine Dawson, chief science officer at the nonprofit advocacy group Autism Speaks and a professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Added Dawson: “Whenever there is a horrible tragedy like this one, people want to make sense out of it and they’re trying to look for answers. I think it’s important that we be very clear that if this individual did have Asperger’s or autism, which we don’t know [for sure] that he did, this is not going to help us understand what happened. Because there really is no link between the two.”

Many parents have kids with Asperger’s and autism, and because this is such a misunderstood condition I feel terrible for the parents who now feel even more alienated by having this connected with the tragedy in Newtown. The facts are, the vast majority of kids afflicted with this are never violent, and would never have the inkling to plan and carry out this type of violence. As much as I fear video games will be the next thing to be connected as to why this happened, it is even more likely that extremely violent video games played a part in this tragedy more than Asperger’s. Everyone wants to know why this happened, and the sad fact is, we may never know. But one thing that experts agree on is that it is extremely unlikely that this mild form of autism played any part in the Sandy Hook mass murders.

(photo: gwolters  /shutterstock)