It’s not news. It may not even be true, but when the parents and carers of people with Asperger’s syndrome heard the TV connection between the Connecticut school house shooter and the syndrome, they had double reasons to be afraid about that terrible day.
The cat was out of the bag and more subconscious links were made in the American consciousness, between mass murderers and the syndrome their loved ones lived with every day. Would the employers of their children react badly to the ‘news’? Would fear and ignorant discrimination rise up once more.
Rumor, especially nasty salacious rumor, like – ‘Adam Lanza had Aspergers’, he was mad and deadly. All Asperger’s sufferers must have the same potential’ -, will travel twice round the world before the truth has even got it’s boots on. Could people at large begin to think that anyone with autism is dangerous? Because Asperger’s is a form of autism and comes in many variations of behavior and severity.
Connecticut school house shooter (alleged)
Psychologists and medical consensus will try to reassure everyone that this would be a terrible mistake. That our will to have simple cause and effect explanations of something so incomprehensible is very strong in us all. But children in the school yard will go with this instinct rather than the rational truth. Bullying, teasing and rejection could be part of the terrible Connecticut legacy.
Many people live with mild forms of mental illness, like Asperger’s syndrome. They have constructed orderly, good lives, with coping strategies and medication. Many hold down jobs and create independent homes and enjoy the usual American pastimes of reading, baseball etc. The big concern about these people is that they are easy prey for victimisers and people angry about injustice and afraid of anything different.
People with Asperger’s syndrome and other forms of autism often find it difficult, if not impossible, to react normally to social interaction. They may say inappropriate things because they lack empathy with how it may make others feel. They may become fixated on narrow aspects of daily life, such as railways, or insects or historical episodes. These people can break out in frustration or because of exceptional stimulation, but gunning down other people never actually fits with these kinds of mental disorders.
People with autism do not plan, in the way that Lanza must have done. People with autism do not attack strangers. Their frustration is invariably aimed at their carers and people close to them. People with autism do not do things in order to gain the attention of a public audience. They do not care what others think. It is one of the defining characteristics of autism.
Until the full facts are known about the Connecticut shootings, speculation around the killers Asperger’s is worse than pointless; it is dangerous. The media chase ratings because higher ratings make for more advertising revenue. Sensationalism and easy pat solutions boost ratings. Competition in news broadcasting is a much bigger and more insidious problem for America today, Asperger’s will ever be.