The New York Times reports on the Connecticut shooter's high school classmates:
Several said in separate interviews that it was their understanding that he had a developmental disorder. They said they had been told that the disorder was Asperger’s syndrome, which is considered a high functioning form of autism.
Told? Told by whom? If officials at the school had made such a disclosure, they violated IEP confidentiality. Or is this "understanding" just another case of unfounded speculation? The news media should be careful about associating autism and mass murder.
And so it begins. Following a sketchy report that Connecticut school shooter Adam Lanza may have had autism or Asperger’s Syndrome, CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight booked a so-called expert named Dr. Xavier Amador to come on the air and slur people with autism. Dr. Amador, a media-friendly psychologist (a specialty that does not deal with autism) told Piers Morgan that “a symptom of autism” is that “something’s missing in the brain, a capacity for empathy, for social connection, which leaves the person suffering from this condition prone to serious depression and anxiety.”
That’s right, Dr. Amador doesn’t know enough, because people with autism, people with Asperger’s, aren’t “missing something in the brain,” nor do they lack a “capacity for empathy” or “social connection,” and there has been grossly insufficient study of Autism Spectrum Disorders’ (ASD) relationship with anxiety disorders. People with ASDs are as capable of empathy as neuro-typical people, if not more, but can have difficulty perceiving nonverbal social cues, which can make people who don’t know any better think they lack empathy. A TV expert speaking about autism should know better, and should also know that people constantly accusing them of being mass murderers is likely to cause more anxiety than the autism. Ditto the fact that developmentally disabled people are much more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators of it.