Some comments have been made associating Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) with the shooter in the elementary school tragedy in Newtown, CT. As an agency that provides services to people with ASD, we feel the urgency to clarify what we know and to offer advice. What we know is that there is no causal connection between the conditions known as ASD or Asperger's Syndrome with extreme violence. Persons with ASD are no more likely to commit a violent act than persons not on the spectrum. A behavior of a person does not necessarily reflect a characteristic of any group that he or she may belong to.
Since this correlation has been mentioned in press reports, persons on the spectrum may worry that they themselves will be perceived to be capable of such an atrocity. They may worry that people in the community may be afraid of them.
As has been advised numerous times, parents should initiate support of their child by listening. Listen to their questions, thoughts, worries and concerns. Children may surprise us in how they are processing what they have learned. Children can be reminded to seek the trusted helpers in their world. If they mention that they are now worried about a particular group of people, they can be reminded that while we don't know why this man did this terrible act, we must not think that this means all people with a diagnosis of ASD or Asperger's Syndrome are violent.
Although clearly we cannot guarantee safety we still seek to reassure our commitment to it.
For more information about ASD and Asperger's Syndrome visit: