Following the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, some people are worried that those suffering from Asperger’s syndrome may become stigmatized. Many people are wanting a scapegoat for the tragedy, with some blaming guns, some saying that we should arm the teachers, and others saying that the shooting is a symptom of societal issues. Another target is mental health issues and specifically any high-functioning form of autism.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the Sandy Hook massacre has sparked an online debate over mental health care. Linza Long’s op-ed entitled “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother” argues that it is “time for a meaningful, nation-wide conversation about mental health.” The Atlantic points out that several diagnoses had Adam Lanza potentially suffering from autism, Asperger’s, and even “personality disorders.”
Some fear that those with Asperger’s syndrome may be unfairly stigmatized in the aftermath of this national conversation. Ron Fournier of the National Journal and his son Tyler, who also suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, believe that Asperger’s by itself could not lead a person to commit a crime like the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting:
“If you meet somebody with Asperger’s, you’ve only met one person with Asperger’s. … Asperger’s is a blip on the far-reaching autism spectrum and no two cases are the same. Just as no ‘typical’ person deserves to be tar-brushed with the evil acts of another, Aspies don’t deserve the bad press they’re getting.”
According to the Associated Press, psychologist Elizabeth Laugeson, an assistant clinical professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, believes that Asperger’s syndrome specifically would be an unfair scapegoat:
“There really is no clear association between Asperger’s and violent behavior.”
This statement is counter-balanced by research that “suggests people with autism do have a higher rate of aggressive behavior — outbursts, shoving or pushing or angry shouting — than the general population.” Still, according to the experts, this behavior is of a different magnitude and cannot be put in the same category as Adam Lanza’s actions:
“But we are not talking about the kind of planned and intentional type of violence we have seen at Newtown. These types of tragedies have occurred at the hands of individuals with many different types of personalities and psychological profiles. 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. We just don’t know what that is yet.”
As the nation considers how mental healthcare patients should be treated, do you fear that Asperger’s syndrome may become a scapegoat that is stigmatized by the media?