With several national reports claiming that the Connecticut school shooting gunman, Adam Lanza, had Asperger’s syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism, one local expert said that such a violent act is not a trait of the disease.
Kristin Gallagher, a mother of an autistic daughter and a son with Asperger’s, and who works at the Autism Center of Pittsburgh, is worried about how people with Asperger’s could be viewed in light of these reports.
Gallagher said she is devastated to hear media outlets said Lanza’s Asperger’s led him to shoot and kill more than two dozen children and adults at an elementary school in Newtown.
“People need to understand that this is not a typical behavior of someone with autism or a Asperger’s syndrome,” said Gallagher.
According to Gallagher, people with autism and Asperger’s are usually the victims not the aggressors as in this case. She fears this report could lead to backlash, leading people to criticize or be fearful of children with those disorders.
"There will be people that jump to conclusions that may be fearful of having their child in the same classroom of someone with autism and that is absolutely wrong,” she said. "I think that we're all looking for an answer, so let’s just hurry up and put something out there and it's wrong."
Gallagher said her hope is that local and national autism groups will speak out about this matter and educate people on the typical behaviors of people with autism and Asperger’s syndrome.