Dr. Daniel Son, a Los Angeles psychiatrist, says Asperger’s actually does not exist as an official diagnosis among mental health professionals anymore, though it still is a commonly used term. He says as of a year ago, it now is simply considered part of the autism spectrum, and most who had been diagnosed with Asperger’s are thought to be high functioning and able to live relatively normal lives.
Son, who treats a number of young autism patients, says that obsessive behavior can result from the disease and patients can become fixated on certain issues. But other factors usually come into play when behavior becomes overwhelmingly violent.
“It’s really more associated with a troubled upbringing rather than the autism,” Son said.
Rodger’s parents split when Elliot was young and his father, Peter, in the film business and an assistant director on “The Hunger Games,” traveled extensively as part of his career.
Meanwhile, Lanza is thought to have possibly suffered from schizophrenia in addition to his Asperger’s. Academics said at the time that Lanza’s condition probably did not lead to his violent behavior, and Lanza’s father told Time Magazine that it shouldn’t be blamed for his son’s actions.
Lanza’s parents split when he was a teenager and his mother was a gun aficionado, who had a number of weapons at her home where Adam lived. Lanza’s father is a corporate executive.
But a life of privilege may not be to blame either, according to one professor at theUniversity of Southern California who was diagnosed with Asperger’s, Lars Perner. Perner told a USC publication recently that his well-to-do family may have had more members with autism, but it was hard to tell because many could afford to be eccentric. He wasn’t diagnosed until he was 31, he said.
“Where I come from, you could afford to be strange,” Perner told the publication. “I shudder to think what would have happened to me if I had come from a less privileged background.”