AANE Statement on the tragedy in Newtown, CT
December 16, 2012 — At the Asperger’s Association of New England, we share the horror and sadness of people across the world. The shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, were a terrible and incomprehensible act of violence. We convey our deepest sympathy to the victims, their families and friends, and their community.
Early reports have suggested that the suspect, Adam Lanza, might have been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome or a mental health condition. This has not yet been confirmed. Having Asperger syndrome does not preclude acts of violence, just as having any other condition, or no condition, does not preclude acts of violence. Some people with autism spectrum disorders have co-existing mental health conditions or other complex issues. Nevertheless, violence is not part of the Asperger or autism profile. People with Asperger syndrome or any other form of autism are far more likely to be the victims than the perpetrators of violence. Although it is impossible to conceive of a mass shooting as a mentally healthy act, the vast majority of mental health issues are not associated with violence.
Our overwhelming concern is for the families of the victims through their deep, enduring grief and devastation. We hope too that the conversation around Adam Lanza will be thoughtful and considerate of people who have Asperger syndrome or other forms of autism and their families. When myths and misunderstandings are perpetuated, nonviolent people with the same condition suffer. It is painful and frightening to feel associated by virtue of a diagnosis with someone who has committed such a horrific crime.
Discussing this tragedy is challenging for families and very upsetting for children who have Asperger syndrome. Our staff is available to give advice or support relating to this issue during normal business hours: (617) 393-3824. We are exploring ways to provide additional support around any concerns relating to the terrible loss of these innocent lives. If there is a way that we can support the families and friends of the victims or the Newtown community, we will be here for them.