In the wake of the recent shootings by Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT there had been a lot of speculation that it may have stemmed from the fact that Adam Lanza has Asperger’s Syndrome. Because of this there is a lot of fear that people are going to thing that all Aspie’s are gun-slinging killers and many parents are concerned that their children may face discrimination because of the issue.
We thought we would write a short post as we had a few requests from people on our mailing list to comment on a this issue.
First, we would like to say that when something like this happens, there is a tendency for the press to sensationalize events. People look for something or someone to blame . The conclusions that are often made in this time don’t necessarily stand up. In this blog by John Elder Robison, he raises the point that correlation does not imply causation. In the same way that most of the gun related violence is performed by Caucasian males its difficult to say that all caucasian males are killers.
Second, while there is research to suggest that people on the Autism spectrum have a slightly higher rate of aggressive behaviour and outbursts, it is a kind behavior that is not characterized by premeditated attempts at Mass Murder. Examining crime statistics also we can see that the violent crime rates for adults with Aspergers are 1.3% compared to 1.25% of the population as a whole. If we examine deeper into the statistics also we can see that the majority of this kind of offenses are actually related to property offences.
Thirdly, its unclear whether Adam had actually been formally diagnosed with Aspergers. Psycologist Dr Beth Weiner recently commented that have studied the behavior of Adam seem to indicate that its more likely he had a antisocial personality disorder than Aspergers. According to Dr Weiner, “If you bump into someone with Asperger’s in the hallway, they might not process it correctly and they might lash out, but they don’t plan out something in a premeditated way.”
One thing is very clear about the whole event is that both Adam and his mother clearly had a few issues that were also unrelated to Aspergers. We hope that the media eventually sees sense in the wake of this incident. Its not fare to discriminate on an entire group of people just because of the actions of one individual.
What do you think? Leave us a comment below