Experts Say: No Correlation Between Asperger’s And Violence

Mental Health

Adam Lanza

We have been told that the gunman in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting was diagnosed with Asperger’s. However, there is no correlation with Asperger’s and the violence he committed, reports The Associated Press.

Asperger’s is a mild form of autism. In many cases, it is characterized by social awkwardness. A person is not violent just because they are socially awkward.

Psychologist Elizabeth Laugeson, an assistant clinical professor at the University of California, said:

“There really is no clear association between Asperger’s and violent behavior.”

She said that people with Asperger’s are usually focused on rules and tend to be very law-abiding.

Adam Lanza has been identified by authorities as the gunman in the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings and killings. Lanza also shot and killed his mother before going to the elementary school and killing 20 young children and six adults. He also shot and killed himself, said authorities.

Classmates from Lanza’s former high school and others described him as bright, though he was painfully shy, anxious and hung out by himself. Those particular symptoms are consistent with Asperger’s, said psychologist Eric Butter of Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Butter treats this condition, but does not know of Lanza’s specific case.

Butter said research suggests that people with autism have a higher rate of aggressive behavior like, outbursts, shoving, pushing or angry shouting.

“But we are not talking about the kind of planned and intentional type of violence we have seen at Newtown,” the psychologist said in an email.

He added:

“These types of tragedies have occurred at the hands of individuals with many different types of personalities and psychological profiles.”

Autism is a developmental disorder that has a wide range from mild to severe. Asperger’s is usually thought of as a mild form. Autism and Asperger’s may be characterized by poor social skills, repetitive behavior or interests, and problems communicating. Asperger’s does not generally include delays in mental development or speech.

Experts have said that people with autism and related disorders such as Asperger’s, can be diagnosed with other mental health problems. Other mental health problems include, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Laugeson said:

“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.”

“There’s something more to this,” said Laugeson. “We just don’t know what that is yet.”

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