Following the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, there has been much talk on the Internet and social media about possible connections between autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and planned violence. In particular, many have discussed the unconfirmed rumor that the individual who perpetrated the tragedy may have been diagnosed with Asperger’s disorder. We feel it is important to weigh in on this topic because the vast majority of the chatter on this subject is based on misinformation, rumor, and fear. The plain and simple fact is that individuals with ASD are not a danger to their community.
A minority of individuals with ASD display fleeting, low-intensity, disruptive or aggressive behaviors, such as tantrums, hitting, or biting, but these behaviors are in no way whatsoever related to school shootings or planned violence of any other sort. Let it be said clearly and without hesitation: People with autism are no more likely to commit atrocities than anyone else. The sad truth of the matter is that individuals with ASD are far more likely to be victims of violence and bullying than they are to commit it. It’s natural to want to find a source of blame in the wake of an event as unspeakable as that which occurred in Newtown, but blaming autism, or even implying that autism spectrum disorders played a contributing role, is simply not supported by the facts.