Asperger's mentioned in Newtown Nightmare: Important to get out front on this
Posted Dec 15 2012 12:45pm
With the NY Times breaking a story that the Newtown killer carried a diagnosis of Asperger's a few words of caution seem warranted. We've been down a road before where particular mental health disorders are connected to killings and it's tough to watch psychologists and others have their clipped remarks broadcast when the issues are far more complicated.
As with any problem that leads to social dislocation and chronic "outsider status" we can construe a path to problems. Example: Person with few or no viable social networks (outsider status) gets strange ideas (obsessive like thoughts/perseveration) which is not refuted or challenged by close friends, loved ones, professionals, leading to horrific behaviors. But that's just an inferred model, not one supported by clear evidence.
And, I need to say, that in working with scores of individuals on the spectrum, I've never seen a high level of violence among them. In fact many of them develop quite different ideas of how to deal with the world and their problems.
After a deadly school shooting in Arkansas in 1998 I was interviewed by a CNN reporter on the campus of my college and I said that disconnection plus easy access to guns is a big problem. We can't easily solve the social disconnection problem, but we sure can limit access to powerful weapons. I hope we start there.