Does Asperger’s cause violent behavior?
After the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, pediatricians reported increased calls from anxious parents wanting to know more about Asperger’s syndrome. Adam Lanza, the young man who killed 20 children and six adults in the Connecticut shooting last December, had been previously diagnosed with Asperger’s.
But experts say it is extremely unlikely that the condition caused Lanza to haul off on a massacre.
“We’ve definitely had parents and kids asking questions, concerned that they could do something like this,” said Carol Rolland, director of the Pediatric Developmental Center at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center. “The kids are worried about what the other children at school will be saying about them. Our therapists have been reassuring parents and patients.”
The syndrome is often diagnosed in children around age 5, during language development. It’s found in all ethnic and socioeconomic groups and affects all ages.
People with Asperger’s may struggle with regular conversations, often lack eye contact and may have difficulty maintaining relationships. It’s common for them have excessive attachments to routines and objects.
The autism-like disorder can cause problems with social skills, eccentric or repetitive behavior, communications difficulties and coordination issues. Some people with the condition are severely disabled. But others are completely capable of functioning at high levels.
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