The Howard County Autism Society released a statement Wednesday asking people not to judge individuals with autism based on the coversation surrounding the school shooting in Sandy Hook.
The statement, which was written by the National Autism Society read:
In the nation’s rush to understand the reasoning for such an awful occurrence, the conversation evolved to include the alleged shooter’s possible diagnosis on the autism spectrum. The Autism Society feels it is imperative to remove autism from this tragic story. Race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation are seldom, if ever, linked to the actions of an individual in a causal relationship. It is imperative that developmental disorders and disabilities betreated in the same vein.
Adam Lanza, the shooter in Friday's tragedy, had been diagnosed with a form of Asperger's syndrome, according to Newtown Patch.
The autism society's statement noted that no evidence exists to link autism and premeditated violence. In fact, according to the statement, individuals with autism and other disabilities are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators.
"Individuals with autism who act aggressively typically do so because they are reacting to a situation," read the statement.
Judy Grusso, the executive director of the Howard County Autism Society, said an example would be that occasionally people diagnosed with autism do not like to be touched and may react in a violent way if touched.
"It's someone with autism reacting to something you did or a situation rather than coming into a situation ready to be violent," said Grusso. "Be sensitive to the fact there are some differences, some people may not want to be touched, some people may not look you in the eye, but it doesn't mean they're not listening."
Currently, there are 700 students diagnosed with a form of autism in Howard County schools and likely many more who are living with autism who have aged out of the school, according to Grusso.
People diagnosed with autism exhibit symptoms that may include social communication and interaction problems, being overly sensitive to sensory experiences, unusual attachment to objects and distress when routines are changed, according to the National Institutes of Health.
The society's statement encouraged communities to educate themselves about the neural development disorder.
Grusso said Howard County residents interested in obtaining more information can visit the Howard County Autism Society website or call the society's office at 410-290-3466.
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