Like millions of people, Paul Bondonno searched in vain for an explanation for the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. But when early reports noted the gunman had Asperger's syndrome, the 34-year-old bolted into hyper-driven self-defense, and he hasn't stopped since.
"We don't want Adam Lanza to be our poster boy," Bondonno said at the Coffee Society in Campbell.
The cafe is usually busy on weekends, but a pelting rain Sunday morning kept the crowd and noise down, a perfect setting for separating the facts of a mysterious disorder from the debate over guns, massacres and mental illness. A 13-year-old girl with Asperger's, Puja Uppalapati, and her father, joined the conversation as well.
"It irritated me," Puja said about the initial Lanza-Asperger's connection. "I was like, why are you saying this? Is this what people will think of us?"
Medical records have not confirmed it, but the possibility that Lanza, the 20-year-old gunman, had Asperger's has got people such as Puja and Bondonno worried that any association with Lanza, true or false, will create a runaway stereotype of them as murderous madmen waiting to explode.
Considered a form of high-functioning autism, Asperger's is a neurological disorder generally characterized by difficulties with social interaction and communication with others.
Children who have autism may have more severe tantrums and meltdowns than other youths, but the disorder is not typically linked to violence, said Mohan Krishnan, a clinical neuropsychologist who works with children and adults who have Asperger's at Hope Network Behavioral Health Services in Grand Rapids, Mich.
"In adulthood, planned acts of violence are not associated with people with Asperger's," Krishnan said.
I would have said that this is ridiculous, except that Judge Heather Morse ruled against me by saying that she suspected me of Aspergers, even tho four psychologists testified that I did not have it or any other mental disorder. Even if I did have it, it has no obvious relevance to the family court. As the article explains, Asperger syndrome is not associated with violence or any other bad behavior. Since then, the Asperger diagnosis has been dropped from the DSM-5.
Some day the history of Asperger syndrome will be written, and Judge Morse will be written up as one of the great bigots of this generation.
For your reference, I found this free summary of the DSM-IV-TR, including diagnostic criteria for Asperger.