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Experts: No link between Asperger's, violence

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 15, 2012 at 10:22 pm •  Published: December 15, 2012
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NEW YORK (AP) — While an official has said that the 20-year-old gunman in the Connecticut school shooting had Asperger's syndrome, experts say there is no connection between the disorder and violence.

Asperger's is a mild form of autism often characterized by social awkwardness.

"There really is no clear association between Asperger's and violent behavior," said psychologist Elizabeth Laugeson, an assistant clinical professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Little is known about Adam Lanza, identified by police as the shooter in the Friday massacre at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school. He fatally shot his mother before going to the school and killing 20 young children, six adults and himself, authorities said.

A law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss the unfolding investigation, said Lanza had been diagnosed with Asperger's.

High school classmates and others have described him as bright but painfully shy, anxious and a loner. Those kinds of symptoms are consistent with Asperger's, said psychologist Eric Butter of Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, who treats autism, including Asperger's, but has no knowledge of Lanza's case.

Research suggests people with autism do have a higher rate of aggressive behavior — outbursts, shoving or pushing or angry shouting — than the general population, he said.

"But we are not talking about the kind of planned and intentional type of violence we have seen at Newtown," he said in an email.

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