The Autism Society released this statement on December 18 regarding reports of a possible autism diagnosis of the shooter at Sandy Hood Elementary. Because Children’s Care supports so many individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders, we felt it was important to share this message.
The Autism Society continues to mourn the lives lost on Friday in Newtown, Conn. We join the nation as we keep our collective attention focused on those directly impacted by this tragedy.
In the nation’s rush to understand the reasoning for such an awful occurrence, the conversation evolved to include the alleged shooter’s possible autism diagnosis. The Autism Society feels it is imperative to remove autism from this tragic story. Race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation are seldom, if ever, linked to the actions of an individual in a causal relationship. It is imperative that developmental disorders and disabilities be treated in the same vein.
Further, the Autism Society is committed to informing, educating and securing appropriate services by providing reliable and unbiased information. To that end, we are compelled to dispel any myths about individuals with autism:
No evidence exists to link autism and premeditated violence. Suggesting otherwise is wrong and harmful to the more than 1.5 million individuals living with autism in the United States.1
Individuals with autism and those with other disabilities are more likely to be victims of violence than the perpetrators.2
Many of individuals with Asperger’s syndrome who have committed crimes had co-existing psychiatric disorders.3
Individuals with autism who act aggressively typically do so because they are reacting to a situation.
Please do not judge any individual with autism based on the discourse surrounding Friday’s tragic event. Instead, please strive to educate and inform your communities. Help the Autism Society ensure that individuals with autism are not marginalized due to a misunderstanding of a complicated disorder.
1. Gunasekaran, S., & Chaplin, E. (2012). Autism spectrum disorders and offending. Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities, 6, 308-313.
2. Hughes, K., Bellis, M. A., Jones, L., Wood, S., Bates, G., Eckley, L., … & Officer, A. (2012). Prevalence and risk of violence against adults with disabilities: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. The Lancet. 379, 1621-1629.
3. Newman SS, Ghaziuddin M: Violent crime in Asperger syndrome: the role of psychiatric comorbidity. J Autism Dev Disord 39:1949-52, 2008.