Earlier today, the media reported a list of items police took from Adam Lanza’s Newtown home. Three books were listed: my own Look Me in the Eye, Daniel Tammet’s Born on a Blue Day, and an NRA pistol shooting manual.
What do I think about that? One person after another has asked me that question . . .
Look Me in the Eye is the most widely read memoir of life with Asperger’s in the world. Hundreds if not thousands of parents have written to tell me how they read my book to help understand their child. From the beginning, news reports suggested Adam had Asperger’s, and they said his mom doted on him. Given that combination, it’s no surprise my book was in the house.
When you think about what happened, just remember that people on the spectrum – whether with traditional autism, Asperger’s, or PDD-NOS – are far more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators. In fact, even as the media has had a field day speculating about Lanza’s Asperger’s, they have hardly even mentioned that two of the children he killed (Dylan Hockley and Josephine Gay) were on the autism spectrum too.
One other interesting thing has escaped mention - Adam's medications. Were there drugs in his system when he committed the murders? Was he on psychiatric medication, and was he taking it as directed? The media has been curiously silent on that count.
I wrote a story about Asperger’s and violence - and how one does not predict the other - for Psychology Today. You can read it here:
Every time there’s speculation about a connection between Asperger’s and murder innocent people are put at risk. Many of us with eccentric interests have already learned the hard way how others may misunderstand our actions. My own son fell victims a few years ago, when a publicity-seeking prosecutor tried to twist his innocent scientific experiments with explosives into imaginary terrorism. That story is described in my newest book, RaisingCubby, which stands as a cautionary tale for what can happen when those of us who are different fail to understand how the public may misconstrue our actions, and how other people may try to twist our eccentricity into something much worse for their own petty gain. I’d like to see the question of what went wrong in Adam Lanza’s mind answered as much as you. Unfortunately, they present speculation isn’t going to get us that data.
John Elder Robison John Elder Robison is an adult with autism who writes and lectures on neurological difference. He's the author of three books: Look Me in the Eye, Be Different, and Raising Cubby.