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article imageExperts & Parents: Don't blame autism for the Newtown Tragedy

By Can Tran     Dec 18, 2012 in Health
With talks about Adam Lanza having something like autism or Asperger's, parents of children with such conditions & medical experts have rejected the notion that the condition is to blame for Sandy Hook.
The finger-pointing and the blame game quickly followed after the media picked up on the shootings that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary at Newtown, Connecticut. Due to the fact of the shooting alone, it has reignited the talks for gun control legislation. Due to the circumstances, with most of the people killed being children ranging from ages of 5 to 10 years, public opinion has directed its anger towards the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other pro-gun rights advocates. However, the NRA isn't the only thing that fingers are being pointed at.
Other targets for blame were: violence in film, violence in video games, sex in the media, abortion rights, same-sex marriage, and so forth. That depends on who you ask is responsible for what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary. In regards to mental health of Adam Lanza, who is identified as the shooter, there was talks about autism and Asperger's syndrome. This is due to the media reports talking about Lanza having various mental health issues with Asperger's being part of the list.
Parents of children with autism & autism experts were quick to reject the notion that such disorders were to blame for the Newtown Tragedy.
In Jacksonville, Florida, one mother who has a child with Asperger's said that you can't link every child. She said that every child let alone one with Asperger's is different. In the same article on First Coast News, a pediatrician was also interviewed. The pediatrician said that any disorder that can be found in the autism spectrum can be detected at a very early age. According to what the pediatrician said, violent behavior is not linked to Asperger's syndrome.
Plus, the pediatrician pointed out that most people who committed mass shootings didn't have the condition. This is one example of parents and experts coming into defense of children that are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders.
A local ABC-affiliated station in North Carolina also interviewed parents, experts, and advocates. One of the people interviewed is a mother who has an adult son diagnosed with mild autism. She said that her son is not a violent person; instead, he is very compassionate and very honest. Also, the Autism Society of North Carolina explain that there's no evidence or solid information to link those disorders with such acts of violence.
It brings up concern that those that are diagnosed with such conditions will be stereotyped. The CEO of the group said that mental illness was most likely a factor. But Tracey Sheriff, the CEO of the organization, said that there are differences between mental illnesses and autism spectrum disorders.
An Irish Times article addresses Asperger's syndrome in regards for what Lanza did. The author of the article explains that various groups including the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have failed to find and isolate the common factors in regards to mass shootings. As a result, people and the media play the game of “fill in the blank.”
Such examples of “fill in the blank” would include blame directed towards the NRA, video games, and so forth.
The article talks about linking Asperger's syndrome and acts of violence can be misleading and damaging down the road. With that said, a person diagnosed with Asperger's and a person diagnosed as being psychopath are worlds away from each other. However, the article may have confused psychopath with sociopath with the latter being the short term for someone who has been diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder.
An article on the Examiner reports of a family who has a son with autism. When the talks about Lanza and autism began to circulate, the writer of the article talks about getting a text message from a friend whose son is also diagnosed with autism. The friend talked about how such talks about linking Lanza and autism is a setback for other kids that are diagnosed with autism. It asks the rhetorical question on who said Lanza having autism in the first place.
Another North Carolina news station, this one affiliated with Fox, reports on groups saying that autism is not to blame for the violence. The director of the Autistic Global Initiative have asked the media and professionals to not give anymore misleading comments about people with autism as it can quickly cause increased prejudice.
The director of ACT Today said that it wouldn't be fair to see that each child that gets diagnosed with Asperger's will become a mass murder or a mass shooter. According to the director, things can go south if such a condition is combined with other factors. The NY Daily News article, which interviewed the director of ACT Today, also interviewed a renown New York child psychiatrist. The psychiatrist said that are millions of children that have a disorder such as autism and Asperger's; however, the psychiatrist further said that it's rare that any one of those goes out to hurt people.
At the end of the article, it goes back to the issue of gun control legislation. But, in this case, the issue is about making sure that people not in the right mind are unable to get access to any sort of firearm. Overall, those that identify with the autism awareness community have spoken and called upon not connecting autism spectrum disorders to what happened with Sandy Hook.
More about Autism, autism awareness, autism spectrum disorders, Aspergers syndrome, newtown
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