School Shooting & Asperger's
There are no words for what happened. As my family and friends know, I am passionate about autism/ASD for those affected by it and their families. I have lived in that world and I not only know it well but I respect it.
If the man who committed this unspeakable crime of slaughter in Newtown, CT, on Dec. 14, 2012, was on the autism spectrum, it is not the autism that is to blame. This was the act of one man deeply troubled with nobody to listen — not even himself — or he wouldn't have done it. No gun control laws could have stopped him (I refuse to mention his name).
I have read and listened, cried and mourned, just like you, in the past 3 days. From what I have discerned, I do believe this murderer was diagnosed and found to be on the autism spectrum. Although there is no evidence to link autism and violent behavior, it can be manifested through the environment or lack of proper intervention, as well as the fact that autism can co-exist with any other disorder.
As the mother of a grown son on the autism spectrum and as a speech-language pathologist who has dedicated her entire professional career to ASD, my passion is to help, share, and make life easier for these people and their families. I know what it takes.
In my Sunday newspaper, Dec. 16, 2012, in a profile and interviews about this young killer I read the following statements:
Former honor student
- Smart but odd and remote
- Toted a briefcase
- Always wore shirt buttoned all the way up
- Very different
- Very shy and didn't make an effort to interact with anybody in his 10th grade
- A very scared young boy who was very nervous around people
- He was a loner
- If that boy would've burned himself, he would not have known it or felt it physically
- He was believed to have suffered from a personality disorder
- He was believed to have suffered from a developmental disorder, possibly Asperger's
- A skinny, withdrawn, socially awkward 20 year-old who excelled in academics but apparently not in forming deep friendships
- Interested in gaming and computers though seemingly without a digital footprint on social networks
- It is not known whether he had a job
- He'd say hello and goodbye, and that was about it
From reading these reports, I can discern Adam Lanza (I can now call him by name because he was a person) was a "cipher in the snow." He was a nobody. It's reported his brother hadn't spoken to him in over 2 years. He mother and father divorced. I can assume he related only to the inanimate, violent, criminal images he found on his computer. It's reported his mother took him to shooting rages with her — stoking the violent rage in him with her arsenal of legalized weapons telling him they were "OK."
It appears his mental and developmental disorder or disorders were not addressed adequately by his educational system that let him down because he did not qualify since he met the educational standards of the system. The high anxiety of being on the autism spectrum (as some reports claim he was) and Adam's high intellectual ability possibly reinforced his belief that he was powerless in a society that values power. And he could not discern fantasy from reality.
I wonder . . .
- whether Adam had ever been in speech/language therapy for social and pragmatic language
- whether teachers ever made him answer questions
- whether his parents supervised what he watched on television as a young child
- whether his parents knew strategies that could assist him in making wise choices at a young age
- whether he knew how to relate to a friend
- whether was allowed to have friends come to his home (it was reported no friends or work personnel were allowed in the family home by the mother)
- whether anyone ever did any role playing with him to dramatize social situations
- whether anyone talked to him about his feelings
- whether anyone knew his favorite color or what he liked to eat or why he buttoned his shirt all the way up
Oh my goodness, as I cry tears of anguish at the haunting answers to these questions, what a difference all of these things and more could have made on this tragic, horrific day in Newtown, CT. This, I wonder too, will Christmas ever come again to 26 families whose tears shall never dry?