IACC Press Release: Statement of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) Related to the Sandy Hook Tragedy

21 Dec

The U.S. Interagency Autism Coordinating Commitee (IACC) has posted a Statement Related to the Sandy Hook Tragedy. I have copied the statement and the rest of that web page below:

Statement of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) Related to the Sandy Hook Tragedy

The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, an independent Federal advisory committee that provides advice to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on activities related to autism spectrum disorder (ASD), has issued the following statement regarding the tragedy that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on December 13, 2012:

Here is the statement:

The events of December 14 in Newtown, Connecticut shocked and saddened people worldwide. All of the members of the IACC express our deepest sympathy and support for the families and community affected by these terrible killings. Some news reports suggested the gunman had Asperger syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Because this tragic event has shaken so many, the IACC wants to ensure that continued speculation about the gunman’s diagnosis does not hurt others in the community. Our committee has collectively prepared this statement to address public concerns and questions about the implied association between autism and extreme violence directed at others.

There is no scientific evidence linking ASD with homicides or other violent crimes. In fact, studies of court records suggest that people with autism are less likely to engage in criminal behavior of any kind compared with the general population, and people with Asperger syndrome, specifically, are not convicted of crimes at higher rates than the general population (Ghaziuddin et al., 1991, Mouridsen et al., 2008, Mouridsen, 2012).[1, 2, 3]

Officials do not yet know whether the person associated with the school shooting in Newtown had been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, another developmental or mental disorder or disability, or multiple disorders. We may never know what undiagnosed conditions or motivations he may have had. Whatever his diagnosis, this individual’s acts are not representative of people with developmental or mental disorders or disabilities, very few of whom are violent or dangerous towards others.

While a rare event, the impact of violence is a tragedy for all of those involved. These devastating events remind us of the importance of providing the best care and support for those challenged by developmental or mental disorders or disabilities. We do know that individuals with autism spectrum disorders, including Asperger syndrome, do better with the appropriate medical, educational, mental health and community supports in place. The IACC strongly supports the development and expansion of those services and believes that more research is needed to identify predictors of violence, and to develop appropriate prevention and treatment strategies.

1 Ghaziuddin M, et al. Brief Report: Violence in Asperger Syndrome, A Critique. J Autism Dev Disorders. 1991 Sep; 21(3): 349-54. [PMID 1938780]

2 Mouridsen SE, et al. Pervasive Developmental Disorders and Criminal Behavior: A Case Control Study. Int J Offender Ther Comp Criminol. 2008 Apr; 52 (2): 196. [PMID 17615427]

3 Mouridsen SE. Current status of research on autism spectrum disorders and offending. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. 2012 Jan-Mar; 6 (1): 79-86.

If you are concerned about violence or possible symptoms of mental illness in a family member or yourself, contact a health care provider or your local health department. You can also contact the treatment referral line at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit the online treatment locator.

Information about coping with stress after a traumatic event can be found at

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) “Coping with Violence and Traumatic Events”

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) “Children and Violence”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “Coping with Stress”
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) “Talking to Children About Disasters”
American Red Cross “Recovering Emotionally”
American Red Cross “Helping Children Cope with Disaster” (PDF – 472 KB)
Other Resources
American Psychological Association
American Psychiatric Association
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Here is a statement about what the IACC is:

The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee is an independent Federal advisory committee that provides advice to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on activities related to autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Members of the committee include representatives of Federal agencies involved in ASD research and services, as well as members of the public who are on the autism spectrum, parents of children with ASD, representatives of leading research, service and advocacy organizations, and other community stakeholders. The IACC develops and annually updates a Strategic Plan to guide ASD research efforts and publishes an annual Summary of Advances in ASD Research and the ASD Research Portfolio Analysis Report. More information about the membership and activities of the IACC is available at: http://iacc.hhs.gov/.

Please note that the IACC is an independent Federal advisory committee, and as such, the views expressed by the IACC do not represent the views of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or other Federal agencies and Departments.

4 Responses to “IACC Press Release: Statement of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) Related to the Sandy Hook Tragedy”

  1. lilady December 21, 2012 at 21:31 #

    What a terrific and encompassing statement Matt, as opposed to a blog on a notorious anti-vaccine website. That blog is now *claiming* that *Big Pharma* and prescribed medication to treat a variety of emotional and psychiatric disorders is responsible for the school massacres. Comments there also *implicate* vaccines for Adam Lanza’s rampage.

    Orac at Respectful Insolence has a post up about that notorious anti-vaccine website and their latest rants about *Big Pharma* and vaccines:


    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) December 21, 2012 at 22:03 #

      The statement above is the Committee’s. Anything I write in the comments is my own:

      It is very difficult to respect the families of Newtown, give them the support and space we can, and also try to correct a mistaken message in the press as it was unfolding.

      This was the time when the autism communities could stand in solidarity with those who impacted directly by this horrible event, try to protect our own from a much lesser damage, and stand in solidarity with those in the mental illness communities. For the most part, I believe this happened.

  2. David N. Brown December 22, 2012 at 04:46 #

    Here’s a part of a comment I posted at “Orac”, directly discussing an issue raised in a post at my own blog:
    (E)thnic studies of violent crime (eg. among whites and blacks, Serbs and Albanians, Christians and Jews) have consistently indicated that in most incidents, the victim(s) and offender belong to the same “community”. If (and admittedly it’s a BIG “if”) this pattern is extrapolated to those with mental illness and/or psychiatric disorders, then it follows logically that a disproportionate number of crimes committed against the mentally ill are in fact by others with a mental illness.

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