Friday, 14 December 2012

Links Between Autism and Violence Are Unfounded

There was a tragedy in Connecticut today in which many children and several adults were killed in a school by a gunman.
Reports are coming out that the gunman was on the autism spectrum.  Even if that turns out to be the case, it does not mean autistics are more likely to commit violent crimes than neurotypical people.  In fact we are less likely to commit violent crimes and more likely to be the victims of them instead. 
Each autistic is an individual just as each neurotypical is an individual. 
This individual chose to commit a violent act for unknown reasons, certainly not because of autism.

I have reposted a statement from the ASAN website http://autisticadvocacy.org/2012/12/asan-statement-on-media-reports-regarding-newton-ct-shooting/ ,

 The Autistic Self Advocacy Network: Nothing about us without us
ASAN Statement on Media Reports Regarding Newtown, CT Shooting


In response to recent media reports that the perpetrator of today’s shooting in Newton, Connecticut may have been diagnosed on the autism spectrum or with a psychiatric disability, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) issued the following statement today:
“Our hearts go out to the victims of today’s shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut and their families. Recent media reports have suggested that the perpetrator of this violence, Adam Lanza, may have been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a diagnosis on the autism spectrum, or with another psychiatric disability. In either event, it is imperative that as we mourn the victims of this horrific tragedy that commentators and the media avoid drawing inappropriate and unfounded links between autism or other disabilities and violence. Autistic Americans and individuals with other disabilities are no more likely to commit violent crime than non-disabled people. In fact, people with disabilities of all kinds, including autism, are vastly more likely to be the victims of violent crime than the perpetrators. Should the shooter in today’s shooting prove to in fact be diagnosed on the autism spectrum or with another disability, the millions of Americans with disabilities should be no more implicated in his actions than the non-disabled population is responsible for those of non-disabled shooters.
Today’s violence was the act of an individual. We urge media, government and community leaders to speak out against any effort to spuriously link the Autistic or broader disability community with violent crime. Autistic Americans and other groups of people with disabilities persist in facing discrimination and segregation in school, the workplace and the general community. In this terrible time, our society should not further stigmatize our community. As our great nation has so many times in the past, let us come together to both mourn those killed by acts of heinous murder and defend all parts of our country from the scourge of stigma and prejudice.”
Media inquiries regarding this shooting may be directed to ASAN at info@autisticadvocacy.org.