Autism is not linked to violence

“Among the details to emerge in the aftermath of the Connecticut elementary school massacre was the possibility that the gunman had some form of autism,” reports todays Los Angeles Times

“Adam Lanza, 20, had a personality disorder or autism, his brother reportedly told police. Former classmates described him as socially awkward, friendless and painfully shy.

“While those are all traits of autism, a propensity for premeditated violence is not. Several experts said that at most, autism would have played a tangential role in the mass shooting — if Lanza had it at all. ’Many significant psychiatric disorders involve social isolation,’ said Catherine Lord, director of the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

Autism, she said, has become a catch-all term to describe anybody who is awkward. Some type of schizophrenia, delusional disorder or psychotic break would more clearly fit the crime, experts said. The hallmark characteristics of autism are social inability, communication problems and repetitive behaviors or obsessive interests. It emerges in early childhood and exists on a vast spectrum, from those who bang their head against the wall to those who can recite train schedules from memory.


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