People searching for answers: terms leading people to Left Brain/Right Brain articles about Newtown

18 Dec

Over the weekend I linked to many statements from groups and individuals in the autism communities about the Newtown shootings. It is then no surprise that many of the search terms used by people coming to this site would involve the shooting. Below is a list of many of the terms used on Sunday. I tried to edit out those which were not related to Newtown and leave spaces to show where they were removed. As you can see, many search terms involved the shooting. Many looking for answers such as “autism and violence” or “aspergers and violence” or “link between autism and murder”.

When a news article includes statements like “the shooter may have had autism”, the public is naturally going to assume this is relevant to the discussion. Autism does not preclude one from being violent or aggressive, but it also is not the root cause for someone who would perpetrate the atrocities in Connecticut. I am grateful that many media outlets are discussing this topic. CNN just released Groups: Autism not to blame for violence and CBS just released Asperger’s not likely to make people violent, experts emphasize.

The Columbia Journalism Review discusses the media speculation about autism in the Connecticut shootings in Lanza, autism, and violence. Including this paragraph:

Lack of solid confirmation that Lanza had autism (from his physician, for instance) hasn’t stopped some news outlets from offering misleading speculation that the disorder can foster violent behavior. The worst offender may have been The Telegraph in the UK. After echoing the unverified report about autism, the paper launched into irresponsible postulation about “sociopathy,” “criminal behavior,” and attempts “to escape feeling empty or emotionally void,” before dropping this disingenuously balanced gem:

Those on the autistic spectrum have a more limited emotional range and can miss social cues, making it more difficult for them to communicate and feel empathy with others. Difficulties communicating can cause frustration, which can spill over into aggression.

Several studies have found that violence and criminal behaviour are no more common in those diagnosed with autism than they are in the general population.

Here are terms that brought people to Left Brain/Right Brain on Sunday:

newtown ct
autism
newtown ct shooting
autism and violence
newtown connecticut
newtown autism
autism violence
how one mother with asperger syndrome grieves sandy hook elementary victims?

newtown shooter autism
newtown ct autism
aspergers and violence
connecticut shooting autism
newton ct
newtown shooting autism

autism speaks statement regarding the newtown shooting
autism newtown

autism advicates speak out about the connecticut tragedy
autism speaks response about allegations that ct. shooter was autistic
autism statement regarding the shooting in connecticut
autistic violence
autism groups on the ct killings

sandy hook asperger

asperger’s syndrome
newtown, ct
newtown, ct shooting
autism group statement on connecticut shooting

sandy hook letter to mom

autism newtown ct
statements from victims of the ctshooting
ct newtown
autism shooting

autism and mass murder
newtown shooting autistic
conneticut and autism
newtown shooting final report

newtown ct shooter autistic
connecticut killings in aspergers

asperger syndrome shooting
aspergers and violent behavior
newtown shooting aspergers
autism speaks article about shooting in ct

mental diagnosis of connecticut shooter
autism shooter

sandy hook autism
ct tragedy

autism killer
autistic people are violent
newtown, connecticut
autism not violent
brains letter from the newtown shooting

how the autistic community is dealing with conecticut tragedy

sandy hook and asperger
autism blog newtown
was newtown shooter autistic

autism shootings
hook elementary shooter aspergers
newtown ct recent
autism speaks response to newtown

autism speaks connecticut shooter

newtown, ct shooter and autism
autism sandy shooting
newtown connecticut brain

autism speaks response to newtown tragedy
autism manic depression
sandy hook shooter aspergers
latest news on newtown, ct shootings

european news coverage and reaction to newtown

asan statement
murder in newtown ct
http://www.sandyhook elementaryvictims
sympathy for the newtown
shootings autism
was newtown shooter autosm spectrum?
population of newtown ct
link between autism and murder
world news newtown ct

ct shooter
senators comment about autism and newtown shooting

autsuim statment newtown ct
latest info on ct shooting

autism newtown connecticut

connecticut gunman autism

shooter autistic
was newtown shooter aitistic
violence and autism
newtown shooter was bipolar
asan regarding ct shooting
newtown’s appeal
sandy hook shooter aspurger

And the list goes on.

Unfortunately, you can’t unring the bell. Not for this incident, and not for years of stigmatizing autism. Here are comments from the CBS story linked above:

First

“most people with Asperger’s can function normally in society”, this is a false statement! They cannot function normally! That is why they give the condition a name, as to differentiate them from the “normal” and accepted social behavioral. We have a large and growing population of people with these behavioral conditions that will hinder our public and social progress. I am afraid that we will continue to see these types of violent episodes, these conditions prevent the individual from using “reflective thought”, actions are sudden and instinctual, almost animal like. If you would like know more, go read a BOOK! don’t look it up on the internet, think for your self!

And

It is understandable that the myriad of disability groups would try to circle the wagon to blunt the obvious and glaring issue – these people cannot and should not be the priority of our lives as society. We spend too much time in school trying to mainstream these children at the detriment of the other students. Yes, there are cute examples that make great movie presentations and that make all of these children seem warm and fuzzy, but the fact remains that these children take up too much class time and resources that the non-disabled children need. We need to go back to the old situations where disabled children are confined to their own special classes and where the impact on regular students is minimized. While it is admirable to think that you can uplift a disabled child through mainstreaming, you are in fact downgrading the rest of the regular children and depriving the majority of necessary time in the classroom without the interruption that necessarily comes with a disabled child (I’m not talking physically disabled – I’m talking about the ones who are mentally and emotionally not there).My position is simply based on using all of your resources to make the most impact on the children who have the most to lose if denied services. The mentally/emotionally disabled should be contained within their own class setting with specialists and given every opportunity to progress without stealing precious class time from children who are able to handle more advanced coursework.

and

I happen to work in a company that employs a person with Aspergers. His actions and strange behaviors make the women at work very uncomfortable. He has serious problems with verbal communications and does things that are unusual to say the least. This results in people giving him wide berth in the work place. People are wondering when he’s going to behave in a violent manner. Supervision is afraid to address this problem and pretends it doesn’t exist. It’s like having a loaded cocked gun on the table ….just waiting for it to go off…….hoping you’re not the person that gets hurt.

While you can’t unring the bell, one can (to abuse the metaphor) try to keep it from being rung in the first place next time. Perhaps the next time there is a mass shooting in the U.S. (and, sadly, that is all too likely to happen), perhaps the media will be less likely to speculate or include “autism” in their discussion.

By Matt Carey

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10 Responses to “People searching for answers: terms leading people to Left Brain/Right Brain articles about Newtown”

  1. stansa December 18, 2012 at 01:26 #

    This saddens me deeply. My 14 year old son who is Autistic is doing extremely well socially and academicaly. He is well liked by peers and teachers. His friends support him, and right now his best friend a girl who met him in elementry school remains his biggest fan. He is quirky, fun and smar and he is an amazing artist. He is fully mainstreamed and he understands philosophy and religion. It is not true he doesn’t or never did have feelings, on the contrary he had diffuiculty expressing those feelings. He had early intervention and intense behavioral and social skills training. He is now in a Peer Mediation Homeroom where he helps other students deal with social problems at school. He has an great releationship with his 24 year old brother and his 3 year old niece adores him. He has overcome his disability to the degree that his teachers perfer him over their other snotty tweens. My son was never a animal he just needed a little more understanding and patience. He tought me so much. I am so sorry so many people think that they are so perfect, most normal people I know are nuts.

  2. David N. Brown December 18, 2012 at 02:12 #

    If you want bottom of the barrel, this was posted about me personally yeterday on google groups:
    ” After this week’s shooting tragedy in Newtown, Conn, we need to keep an eye on the
    member of this group with Asperger’s Syndrome (same as the Sandy Hook
    Elementary shooter Adam Lanza) aka David N. Brown (see below).”

    The author of this message is named Richard M. Scoville. He has been cyberstalking me since early 2011, and others since 2003. All his web content amounts to sick jokes about various strangers committing crimes against children, mixed with private information and infringed web content, and is tailored to lead search results for a victim’s name. He particularly targets those who are disabled or work with the disabled. Google knowingly enables his behavior by not removing his content from google groups even under legal orders. They also have been giving him blogs since his original “pay-for-libel” site was shut down.

    David N. Brown
    Mesa, Arizona

  3. Lara Lohne December 18, 2012 at 03:56 #

    I am just too shocked and hurt to properly respond to this. Would these people feel the same way if it was them, or their loved one with the disability they are talking about? This makes me fear for my son.

  4. lilady December 18, 2012 at 03:59 #

    I was out of town and out of touch with mainstream media’s coverage of the school shootings for a few days. I’ve been following now, what has been said about the shooter’s supposed diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome, as well as the erroneous ignorant posts that associated an ASD diagnosis with the committing of heinous crimes.

    Emily Willingham, you Matt, and other science bloggers have done a spectacular job of educating the public about ASDs and that fact that having an Asperger Syndrome diagnosis is not indicative of a potentially violent criminal act. It’s so sad that professional journalists have engaged in yellow sensational journalism and scapegoated people with a developmental disability.

  5. Robert Estrada December 18, 2012 at 21:00 #

    When I was young Downs’s syndrome children were warehoused as uneducable. When the movement to mainstream these kids and young adults began you heard all sorts of fearful ignorant things from parents of “normal” kids. Were they safe to be around? Were they able to emotions, sexual urges? And on and on. There is very little of the current dialogue focusing on the most salient features of this current shooter and most of the rest. White, Young, Male.

  6. BA December 19, 2012 at 16:24 #

    This is a very difficult time for (everyone, especially those directly impacted by this event) people with ASDs, their families, advocates, and others. The evidence certainly suggests that persons with ASDs are much more likely to be victims of voilent crime than they are to be committing those crimes. However, there have been high profile events. I’m kind of surprised no one in the media has brought up the not to distant John Odgren killing of James Alenson in a high school in Massachusetts. Certainly the ASD was not “the cause” and there were probably many things that should have been done for him and Adam Lanza that were not. That said, channeling this attention would possibly be helpful to those with ASDs. Resources for treatment and supporting families with (all) mental health disorders may be as or more important than gun control regulations.

    • Lara Lohne December 19, 2012 at 17:47 #

      @BA the media has merely turned the scapegoat spotlight onto a new victim. The first time this happened, it was due to abused children, the next time it was children who were bullied. ASD and Asperger’s is just the newest boogy man on the block. What it comes down to is the media and its irresponsible methods and ‘reporting’ things that are not even confirmed, and assuming that has something to do with what happened. What color was his hair? His eyes, what size shoe did he wear? Why is that not pertinent to the report? Because this particular issue they brought up is something that not a lot of people have and even fewer people understand. Gun control isn’t the answer either, if a person really wants to do something like this, they would find a way to do it. All the media has done by bringing ASD into the conversation is to create a lot of public paranoia toward people with ASDs, wondering now when they are going to ‘explode’. I’ve even read comments where people have stated they have reported people in their community who has ASD, to police and calling for everyone else to do the same, “now that they know how dangerous the condition can be.” This is only going to breed more violence toward completely and totally innocent people. That isn’t the answer, never has been.

      • violetyoshi December 19, 2012 at 19:35 #

        I am disgusted by the people calling the cops on people with ASDs. I honestly think this will only serve to prove that NTs are generally paranoid twits, and that they are a danger to society.

        So what if Adam Lanza may have had an ASD, that pales in comparison to the damage NTs do towards their chosen scapegoat group. I’m not saying in any way what Adam did was okay, but people ostracizing ASD children because of it is emotionally sadistic.

        Did it ever occur to them that if Adam wasn’t made an outsider by his NT peers, he might not have resorted to this? I’m sick and tired of the notion that NTs never are at fault. It’s not like people with ASDs have such a primitive fascination with guns and violence in general.

        Oh but lets look out for those scary innocent people with ASDs they say, lets continue picking on the vulnerable and then act surprised when another shooting occurs because we pushed someone too far. Nobody is allowed to be a victim except NTs, that’s what I keep hearing.

        This turned into a rant, because I honestly am beside myself at this point. I am terrified people will assume Adam Lanza murders kids + he has an ASD = possible animal abuser. Most ASD people’s animals mean the world to them, and I heard Dr. Oz mention sociopathy and animal abuse, but what the *bleep* is that going to matter to people just associating all of this with ASDs

        It’s the NTs who once again have proven how monsterous they can be when they pick their scapegoat and ostracize them. Adam may have murdered those children, but NTs continue to murder souls.

      • Lara Lohne December 19, 2012 at 20:30 #

        There was a Facebook page, started by someone. It has been taken down now, but the title of the page was, “Asperger’s Prevention Campaign: Stop The Slaying. The status set as, “When we reach 50 likes, we will find an autistic kid and set it on fire.” Completely and totally dehumanizing this child they are talking about. Today was the first day since the shooting occurred that my son was well enough to return to school and I was terrified of sending him. I wrote a note to his learning team to please keep him safe for me because I am sincerely concerned for what children might have picked up, and I have made no secret of my son having autism. I don’t want it to be something he is ashamed of, so I’ve been very open about it with everyone. But now I am wondering if I shared too much information with the wrong people. Waiting for the bus today, I found myself in hypervigilance mode, watching for signs of suspicion and fear toward my son.

        I had a nightmare last night. This afternoon, after my son gets home, I am going to take him to the mall to visit Santa Claus and we’re going to pick up a Christmas Tree for him to decorate, because those are the two things he has asked for this year (well, he wants a jingle bell too, like in ‘The Polar Express’). In my nightmare, we were on the bus, headed to the mall to visit Santa, and my son started rocking and humming, like he typically does when we are on the bus, and someone noticed and pointed saying, “That kid has autism, he’s going to murder us all!” And everyone on the bus converged on us. I grabbed my son and held him close to me to try and keep him safe, but the number of people on the bus easily over powered me and removed him from my arms. They carried him outside and proceeded to beat and kick him to a bloody pulp and all the while I was being restrained and forced to watch this whole scene. I woke up, sweating and panting and feeling pain in my arms as if I had been restrained by someone in real life. My son, is 5 years old and not a threat to anyone. I am terrified of what ignorant people might get into their heads. I fear for my son.

  7. David N. Brown December 20, 2012 at 07:23 #

    @Lara,
    ” I’ve even read comments where people have stated they have reported people in their community who has ASD, to police and calling for everyone else to do the same…”

    My guess is that the same people in another time and place would have been reporting communist milkmen in the John Birch Society newsletter. The police will know which people they really need to keep an eye on. For better or worse, they are also constrained by civil rights laws. Meanwhile, it looks very much like the media and the “important” people have already shifted their attention to how many bullets should be in a gun.

    David N. Brown
    Mesa, Arizona

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