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Rumors are starting that the 20-year-old gunman in the Connecticut school shooting had Asperger’s syndrome, and people are wondering if there is some connection between the disorder and the inexplicable violent behavior. Experts are quick to say there is no connection at all.
Asperger’s is a mild form of autism most commonly manifesting as a social awkwardness. “There really is no clear association between Asperger’s and violent behavior,” said psychologist Elizabeth Laugeson, an assistant clinical professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.
While people with autism do tend to have outbursts and some inappropriate displays of extreme emotion, it’s not nearly to the degree of what was seen in the school in Connecticut. “We are not talking about the kind of planned and intentional type of violence we have seen in Newtown,” said Eric Butter of Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
“These types of tragedies have occurred at the hands of individuals with many different types of personalities and psychological profiles.”
Autism can range from very mild to severe. Asperger’s is thought of as a mild form of autism. They are both characterized by poor social skills, repetitive behavior and problems communicating. Unlike autism, Asperger’s does not involved developmental delays.
“I think it’s far more likely that what happened may have more to do with some other kind of mental health condition like depression or anxiety rather than Asperger’s,” Laugeson explained.
She pointed out that most people with Asperger’s tend to focus on rules and be very law-abiding. “There’s something more to this. We just don’t know what that is yet.”
The information about Adam Lanza’s condition was disclosed by a law enforcement official. This person had not been authorized to discuss the personal information of the shooter in the massacre that occurred last Friday.
People who knew Lanza, high school friends and others, have described him as bright but painfully shy and anxious. He was often described as a loner. While these descriptors may be common to people who have Asperger’s, there is no link with violent behavior.
Source: Miami Herald
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