Saturday, September 7, 2013

No connection between Asperger’s Syndrome and violence

If you have not already read/heard, a great tragedy was perpetrated by a lone gunman last Friday in Newtown, Connecticut, it has been suggested that he had a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, without going into specific details of the tragedy, one can easily find those on the internet, I wish to address the fact that Autism was discussed in conjunction with extreme violence. Being Autistic does not predispose one to commit heinous acts of murder, etc., please keep in mind that this is the second time this year that the association of Asperger’s Syndrome and violence has been discussed in the media, the first was after the mass-shooting at a movie theater in Colorado, the gunman was also suspected to have Asperger’s. The Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership (G.R.A.S.P.) and the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (A.S.A.N.) have issued statements about the Autism/violence connection. Here are links to their statements.  

Below is an article published by the Associated Press that further illustrates that there is indeed NO connection between Asperger’s Syndrome and violence. By virtue of our Autism, we Autistics are not predisposed to commit premeditated violence/murder. I urge you to read the AP article and share it widely with your friends and family, by doing so you will aid in breaking down horrible stereotypes about our community and aid in the cause of Autism Acceptance. Thank you.

Autism experts say no evidence of link between Asperger’s and violence like in Connecticut

Dec 16, 2012, Associated Press

NEW YORK — While an official has said that the 20-year-old gunman in the Connecticut school shooting had Asperger’s Syndrome, experts say there is no connection between the disorder and violence.

Asperger’s is a mild form of Autism often characterized by social awkwardness.

“There really is no clear association between Asperger’s and violent behavior,” said psychologist Elizabeth Laugeson, an assistant clinical professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Little is known about Adam Lanza, identified by police as the shooter in the Friday massacre at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school. He fatally shot his mother before going to the school and killing 20 young children, six adults and himself, authorities said.

A law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss the unfolding investigation, said Lanza had been diagnosed with Asperger’s.

High school classmates and others have described him as bright but painfully shy, anxious and a loner. Those kinds of symptoms are consistent with Asperger’s, said psychologist Eric Butter of Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, who treats Autism, including Asperger’s, but has no knowledge of Lanza’s case.

Research suggests people with Autism do have a higher rate of aggressive behavior — outbursts, shoving or pushing or angry shouting — than the general population, he said.

“But we are not talking about the kind of planned and intentional type of violence we have seen at Newtown,” he said in an email.

“These types of tragedies have occurred at the hands of individuals with many different types of personalities and psychological profiles,” he added.

Autism is a developmental disorder that can range from mild to severe.

Asperger’s generally is thought of as a mild form. Both Autism and Asperger’s can be characterized by poor social skills, repetitive behavior or interests and problems communicating. Unlike classic Autism, Asperger’s does not typically involve delays in mental development or speech.

Experts say those with Autism and related disorders are sometimes diagnosed with other mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

“I think it’s far more likely that what happened may have more to do with some other kind of mental health condition like depression or anxiety rather than Asperger’s,” Laugeson said.

She said those with Asperger’s tend to focus on rules and be very law-abiding.

“There’s something more to this,” she said. “We just don’t know what that is yet.”

After much debate, the term Asperger’s is being dropped from the diagnostic manual used by the nation’s psychiatrists. In changes approved earlier this month, Asperger’s will be incorporated under the umbrella term “Asperger’s Syndrome” for all the ranges of Autism. 

Published December 17, 2012 on Google+

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