Aspergers To Blame For Shooting?

By: Deanna Bettineschi Email
By: Deanna Bettineschi Email

Asperger’s syndrome is a form of autism.
And mental health experts say it has nothing to do with why Lanza killed 26 people.

Whenever a mass shooting happens, people try to figure out the killer's motive.

On Friday December 14th, 20-year-old Adam Lanza opened fire at sandy hook elementary school in Newtown Connecticut, killing multiple children and school officials before turning the gun on himself.

Now, people are pointing fingers, saying it could have been because Lanza had Asperger's syndrome.

But others say that’s not the case.

"I have never heard of a person with Asbergers, because they have Asbergers, doing something violent. I think there was some other mental health issue." Houston County Special Education Coordinator Denise Whitfield said.

Whitfield says people with Asperger's often have difficulty carrying on a conversation.

"I would say the first thing you would notice is social difference, social nuisances that people with Aspergers don’t pick up on like we do. Facial expressions are meaningless to the typical person with Aspergers." Whitfield said.

But Whitfield and others who work with autistic children say their behavior doesn't usually involve hurting others.

"I absolutely think they are trying to blame something because Asperger children are not for the most part aggressive. If they get upset, they normally harm themselves." Speech Pathologist Fran Heisner said.

"People are now terrified. Like oh my goodness I might be exposed to someone with Aspergers, my children might be exposed to someone with Aspergers at school. " Whitfield said.

Both agree this is now putting a larger stigma on those people who have mental health issues, regardless of if they are a danger to society.

"It’s bad for the children that have Aspergers because now it’s this big red x trying to blame this." Heisner said.

Heisner says there had to be another problem that caused Lanza to go on a shooting spree.
"People can have other co-existing problems depression a-d-d, a-d-h-d."

Heisner and Whitfield believe in situations like these, there should be less blaming, and more education.
There are many places in the wiregrass that deal with Asperger's patients.
Officials say they teach them how to communicate better with their classmates, friends and family.

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