Autism, Empathy, and Violence: Asperger’s Does Not Explain Connecticut Shooting

17 Dec

Slate has picked up Emily Willingham’s article on the Newtown shootings, as Autism, Empathy, and Violence: Asperger’s Does Not Explain Connecticut Shooting. The URL says a lot:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2012/12/17/asperger_s_and_newtown_school_shooting_autistic_does_not_mean_violent.html

Autistic does not mean violent.

It is very heartening to see large media outlets picking up on this message to counter speculation which started with the unconfirmed report that the shooter was autistic.

The article originally appeared as Autism, empathy, and violence: One of these things doesn’t belong here on Dr. Willingham’s blog EmilyWillinghamPhD.com and at the Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism.


By Matt Carey

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8 Responses to “Autism, Empathy, and Violence: Asperger’s Does Not Explain Connecticut Shooting”

  1. William Krupar December 17, 2012 at 14:48 #

    i NEED TO CONNECT to learn more about the potential for the government to start rounding up our kids that have autism.

  2. David N. Brown December 17, 2012 at 21:12 #

    @William,
    Not likely; apart from any other considerations, it would cost too much money.

    I have a blog post about this incident, and links to some other material, here:
    http://exotroopers.wordpress.com/2012/12/17/responding-to-anytown/

    David N. Brown
    Mesa, Arizona

  3. Danny joy (@ErDannyjoy) December 18, 2012 at 10:49 #

    it won’t be a big deal that a violent person or a killer diagnosed with Aspergers. It’s true that experts say that people with Aspergers are non violent but symptoms of Aspergers vary from person to person and it won’t be a big deal that a person who is violent and diagnosed with Aspergers.
    http://cluas.ie/children/aspergers-syndrome/

    • Lara Lohne December 18, 2012 at 20:42 #

      @Danny joy, it is already a big deal. Children with Asperger’s and autism are wondering, asking their parents if they will grow up to do things like that, people are reporting children diagnosed with Asperger’s to police just because they “act weird and it’s best to report him now that I know how dangerous his condition can be.” Symptoms of Asperger’s have nothing to do with violent behavior, nothing, anywhere in any diagnostic manual or screening questionnaire has ever asked if the child in question shows signs of violence, because violence has nothing to do with autism, Asperger’s and ASD. That stigma needs to stop and needs to stop now. Autistic people are afraid, and given the ignorant comments I’ve seen being made, I don’t blame them, and I fear for my own son’s safety, because he has autism and he is only five years old.

      • lilady December 19, 2012 at 16:33 #

        The interesting thing is that Danny Boy’s link did not state that having an ASD diagnosis is a risk factor for committing heinous crimes and he readily *admits* that…

        “It’s true that experts say that people with Aspergers are non violent but symptoms of Aspergers vary from person to person and it won’t be a big deal that a person who is violent and diagnosed with Aspergers.”

        http://cluas.ie/children/aspergers-syndrome/

        It is a “big deal” when non-experts like you scapegoat kids with ASDs, Danny Boy.

      • Berry October 19, 2014 at 20:35 #

        I concur with you wholeheartedly. At the moment i am writing a blog post on this subject for a dutch autism website as well. This is very harmfull for the autistic community. http://www.autismekenmerken.net/autisme-2/syndroom-van-asperger/

  4. David N. Brown December 19, 2012 at 09:05 #

    @Lara,
    I would consider the comments, offensive as they are, to be nothing more than people being thoughtless (or else showing some proverbial screws loose themselves). The greater part of society, and the mass media, can be expected to “filter” it out (which I think was already in evidence before the “dogpile” of complaints started). If anything is cause for concern, it’s the subtle effects that just a hint of popular prejudice could have on interpersonal interactions… up to and including “self-fulfilling prophecy”.

    Another thing I would point out is that talking about autistic people as “non-violent” is something of a slippery slope toward condescension. It SHOULD be taken for granted that people with autism can behave violently. The issue (which I think is what Danny Joy is getting at) is that any reasonable standard would set the bar very high for accepting such behavior as a REAL difference from everyone else

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  1. Children Can Flourish With Empathy | The Other Blokes Blog - December 19, 2012

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