After the horrific events that happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, it is understandable that people will look for reasons why Adam Lanza and people like him can and have done such things. It is terribly sad and alarming, however, to find that despite the availability of substantial scientific research on the subject, some people became fixated on the fact that Lanza did what he did because he had Asperger’s Syndrome (a type of Autism which is at the lower, less severe, side of the spectrum).
As a person who works with children with Autism and their family, this is deeply alarming and I wish to straighten this out, once and for all. Why am I so passionate about this? Well, I don’t want Autism to be WRONGFULLY associated with extreme acts of violence and psychopathy. Attributing Adam Lanza’s (and the likes) crime to having Asperger’s Syndrome could lead to devastating effects. People with Autism are misunderstood enough. Students with Autism are being bullied in schools due (in part) to the lack of understanding of other kids. Don’t make this any worse.
THERE ARE NO EVIDENCE WHICH SUGGESTS THAT VIOLENT ACTS SUCH AS MURDER IS CAUSED BY AUTISM. Yes, I have worked with students who were violent in the sense that they have punched, kicked or pushed their classmates and teachers, but none have ever turned into a psychopath. Here’s Simon Baron-Cohen talking about violence, lack of empathy and Autism:
Prevalence, Causes and Possible Prevention Strategies
More on Autism:
Communication difficulties in Autism
Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper: Asperger’s Syndrome’s Poster Boy?
Still unsure if Sheldon has Asperger’s?
The Autistic Me: BBC Documentary
Autism in the classroom:
Guide to parents of students with ASD on coping with the first day back to school
Common signs of Autism in the classroom
First day back to school: Top tips for parents of children with Autism
Practical tips to make your classroom Autism-Friendly
Inspiring People with Autism:
Jessica-Jane Applegate (British Paralympian)
Satoshi Tajiri (Pokemon creator)
More on Savants:
The Psychology of Savants: Memory Masters
The Einstein Effect: Is there a link between having Autism and being a genius?