Thursday, December 20, 2012

Who's claiming there's a link between autism and violence?

I've been away from blogging for a while because I've been busy with a house move during the worst time of the year (at least for me) as well as having less to blog about.  I thought due to tragic events of the last week, a blog post was warranted.

In light of the Newtown shootings and some credible evidence that Adam Lanza was somewhere on the autism spectrum, there has been a flurry of persons denying there's a link between violence and autism.  The autism society, autism speaks, the autistic self-advocacy network and Michael John Carley of GRASP have all issued statements disavowing a connection between autism and violence in general and Lanza's Asperger's (alleged or otherwise) and the Newtown shootings in particular.

I am curious what exactly these disavowals are in response to.  Has any credible autism expert, media pundit, etc. ever claimed there was in fact a link between autism and violence or even that Lanza's possible Asperger's was the causal factor in the murders of those innocent children?  If so, who said this ever, let alone in light of the Connecticut killings?  I'm wondering who these people are responding to, if anyone.  

Of course, there are isolated cases of some persons diagnosed with Asperger's  committing arson and sexually related crimes and the neurodiversity movement's spin on the case studies cited by Murray et al. and Barry-Walsh et. al. in the literature.  As regular readers of the Gadfly blog know, I've written about this previously. Neurodiversity advocate Paula Durbin-Westby has cited some instances in which a child teased another child saying "if blank gets a gun she'll come shoot you." She also noted a facebook page called Asperger's prevention Campaign that stated that after they got 50 likes they'd find an autistic child and set them on fire. Facebook has since deleted this page. If this page happened to start right after the Lanza shootings or before, Durbin-Westby does not mention this.

I'm not sure who (if anybody) diagnosed Lanza with Asperger's but from various reports from his brother, friends of his mother and his parents' divorce records, there is credible evidence that Lanza was in fact diagnosed with Asperger's by a legitimate clinician.  This is unlike the case of Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, Stephen Spielberg--those paragons of virtue from the point of view of the neurodiversity movement that cause them to state that it's okay to be autistic and no cure is needed or in fact would be a bad thing.  Larry Arnold, my old friend from the ND movement, has stated on my facebook page that Lanza was in fact never diagnosed with Asperger's and it's all speculation.  I'm waiting for Larry to come up with some documentation for that with bated breath.  Once again, I'm appalled that neurodiversity does not want to take the bad with the good.  They can have their cake and eat it too by claiming autism is a gift because all of these celebrities allegedly had it, but they don't want to include people like Adam Lanza or George Sodini in  their brethren. I've written about this elsewhere also 

No, I don't think one kid teasing another kid and some wingnuts who can easily log onto facebook represent credible sources. Are these people who are proclaiming there is no link between autism and violence actually responding to someone or is this just hysterics in light of the tragic event and the possibly irrational fear that because Lanza allegedly had Asperger's this will give all people (myself included) with an autism spectrum disorder a "bum rap".  If there is anyone (I mean credible person) in the media or elsewhere who has attempted to link autism and violence or claim that Lanza's Asperger's caused these kids to be killed before these people disavowed a link between autism and violence, I'd be interested in hearing about it.

In the meantime, I guess we can paraphrase that old saw from the NRA and say that autism doesn't murder people.  People murder people. 


Anonymous said...

Google Joe Scarborough, Jonathan. If you consider him a credible source. He made the connection after Colorado.

Larry Arnold PhD FRSA said...

There are currently several news reports which state that the only evidence to suggest Asperger's is what in this country would be dismissed in a court as "hear say" that is to say the reports of friends of the parents as to what Lanza's parents might have said. In other words until it is proven, just rumour.

I guess in the USA accessing medical records is somewhat different to the UK where we have a National Health Service and standardised records, but I would guess that if there were a formal diagnosis a record would be there, in the form of an insurance claim complete with DSM code. At this the news reports state that the police are trying to access records. I am willing to bet a formal diagnosis won't be found anymore than a formal diagnosis of Bill Gates has yet appeared.

In other words until proper admissible evidence is found that Lanza had a diagnosis the rest is pure speculation

......I'm Anonymous said...

Good to see you back at blogging.

I have no doubt Lanza has some mental health issues, though I have no proof other than he killed a bunch of people. However, I do think it is possible for someone with Asperger's to plan such an act but its not possible for someone with full blown autism. You know, the classic type of autism that existed before 1994.

The problem with watering down the diagnosis is that kids like mine, whom can't tie his own shoelaces, is lumped into the same group that could conceivably pull off a planned mass murder.

By the way, one of the ASAN picketers at the Autism Speaks gala a couple of years ago use to brag on his blog that he would go into black neighborhoods and pick fights. I told Ari Ne'eman at the time that if he wants to embrace the self diagnosed and use them in his cause, he's going to get a lot of screwballs that don't have autism.

Anonymous said...

If he was black or Latino, they'd just call him a gangster.

If he was Middle Eastern or South Asian, they'd just call him a terrorist.

When a white or East Asian guy shoots up a school, they call him a poor misunderstood soul and say he couldn't help it because he must have had autism or something.