Unanswered questions are at the forefront in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting in December, leaving many people to wonder what the gunman’s motive was. The young man was autistic; some speculate that might have led to the violence that transpired.
Anne Deaton with the Missouri Department of Mental Health, Former Director of Developmental Disabilities, says she wants to lay those speculations to rest that Asperger’s — a form of autism — was a link to the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn.
Deaton says she’s unsure if the gunman actually had Asperger’s syndrome, but does not think that someone with the condition would be any more violent than anyone else.
“I’m concerned about the automatic leap to violence with Asperger’s,” she says. “There are many people on college campuses, researchers, and other people who are greatly contributing to society that have Asperger’s and they’re very successful in their field.”
Deaton says people should be educated about the condition rather than placing a stigma on it.
“This is the real problem, jumping to say something that seems like an explanation and it actually might skew and distort the condition,” she says.
Deaton adds that a person with a form of autism are often bullied and misunderstood — not the perpetrators. She says when an association between autism and violence is made immediately and out of context, she says we are doing a disservice to not only the situation, but also to the person who is coping with the illness and to their families.
AUDIO: Mary Farucci reports. (1:02)