A diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome had no link to shooting suspect Adam Lanza’s decision to kill in cold blood, experts said.
“The eyes of the world are on this wrenching tragedy,” said Dr. Valerie Paradiz, director of Autistic Global Initiative. “With 1 in 88 now diagnosed, misinformation could easily trigger increased prejudice and misunderstanding.”
Lanza had been reportedly diagnosed with Asperger’s, a high functioning form of autism that is characterized by well-above average intelligence and social awkwardness.
While individuals with Asperger’s may have trouble reading social cues, experts said the condition has no ties to violence and should not be used to explain why the troubled teen chose to massacre 26 children and adults at the Connecticut elementary school last week.
“A typical person with Asperger’s wouldn’t have the tendency to pick up a gun and shoot anyone, let alone go to ongoing target practice, which this individual did,” said Gary Maffei, executive director of Quality Services for the Autism Community.
Professionals in the field warned the public not to point to the lifelong brain disorder as a scapegoat.
“Autism is no excuse or explanation [for] evil,” said Autism Rights Watch, a nonprofit group. “Being ‘autistic,’ ‘odd,’ ‘awkward,’ ‘camera shy,’ a ‘nerd’ and ‘uncomfortable with others’ does not cause a person to become a mass murderer.”
Instead, the organization said Lanza’s easy access to weapons in the household is “the most solid contributing factor” for his murderous rampage.
The 20-year-old also likely suffered from other mental health issues, whether he was diagnosed or not, experts said.