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:
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autism and violence
how one mother with asperger syndrome grieves sandy hook elementary victims?
newtown shooter autism
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aspergers and violence
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autism speaks statement regarding the newtown shooting
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
autism groups on the ct killings
sandy hook asperger
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autism group statement on connecticut shooting
sandy hook letter to mom
autism newtown ct
statements from victims of the ctshooting
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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
sandy hook autism
autistic people are violent
autism not violent
brains letter from the newtown shooting
how the autistic community is dealing with conecticut tragedy
sandy hook and asperger
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was newtown shooter autistic
hook elementary shooter aspergers
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autism speaks response to newtown
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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
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sympathy for the newtown
was newtown shooter autosm spectrum?
population of newtown ct
link between autism and murder
world news newtown ct
senators comment about autism and newtown shooting
autsuim statment newtown ct
latest info on ct shooting
autism newtown connecticut
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was newtown shooter aitistic
violence and autism
newtown shooter was bipolar
asan regarding ct shooting
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:
“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!
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.
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