Saturday, December 15, 2012

Those with Autism are not Killers

I want to open this blog post by expressing my condolences to the families, the students at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut, and those who lost their lives at the hands a 20 year old shooter.  The wake of the attacks left millions of people in a sort of panicked frenzy, not least of which, media outlets throughout the United States.  A story reported by Fox News compared possible medical conditions that might make an individual a "child killer."  Mentioned among various medical conditions was autism spectrum disorder.

Let me make on thing clear.  Things are bad enough without reporters grasping at possible threads to try to get a big story out there and gain a competitive advantage among competitor media outlets.  I've worked for a newspaper company before so I know how competitive media outlets can be among one another. Especially with the decline of the journalism industry in light of the development of the Internet.  Regardless of this, the fact that Fox News associated autism spectrum disorders with child killers is completely unacceptable.

The reason it is unacceptable is because people are panicked and there are readers who have been lead to believe that people on the spectrum are killers.  This is a step back in the path of autism awareness.  Many people are hard pressed to prevent such a tragedy from occurring in the future.  Associating this tragedy with autism will lead to further misunderstanding and unnecessary fear.  That could not be any farther from the truth.  I have met many people on the spectrum.  I am on the spectrum.  I know that sensory and cognitive difficulties lead to meltdowns and other behavioral problems due to difficulty in processing sensory input.  People on the spectrum may act out compulsively, but people on the spectrum are not killers.

If I could have anyone read these words in the wake of this heinous tragedy, it would be those who read the following story and think that autism had something to do with what happened yesterday:


  1. Fox News is not the only media outlet that reported this. As I was writing this post, the TV was on across the room. Channel 4 NBC interviewed someone who claimed the killer was on the autism spectrum: "...he (the shooter) didn't make eye contact and hardly talks to people..." Well, there are a lot of reasons for that and it does not mean that autism contributed to the terrible events that happened yesterday.

  2. We need to have this message heard by the media. Unfortunately, scapegoating is in full motion at the moment.
    We wrote a statement today talking about it here : "Autism Rights Watch grieves for the families after Newtown, CT shootings"

  3. Amen-at this point the media is becoming the big bad wolf
    that screamed wolf

  4. Disgusted that the media would blame autism. No it was the man who killed all those people, children included. Not autism.he alone was evil not autism and did he even have autism or are the media just grasping at straws and trying to understand why anyone would do such an evil thing