Danville Experts: Asperger's Syndrome Does Not Lead To Violence

Danville, VA -- One bit of fallout from last Friday's shooting is the suspicion some are now placing on people who have Asperger's Syndrome.

Some people close to Adam Lanza say he had the disorder. But disability experts say that suspicion is completely unfounded.

Asperger's Syndrome is a form of autism. Experts say it makes the brain process information differently. It may effect things like social skills, but experts say it does not lead to extreme violence.

"We have to make sure we are looking at the whole person and not looking at one part of him," said Tonya Fowler, Executive Director of The Arc of Southside.

For more than a decade, Fowler has dedicated her life to working with people who have disabilities. Friday's shooting, however, left her concerned. Fowler wasn't worried because of violence related to people with disabilities, but because of the stigma that could now be associated with them.

"People with Asperger's Syndrome are no more likely to be violent than people without Asperger's," said Fowler.

Fowler says if Adam Lanza had Asperger's, it may not have been his only disorder.

"Asperger's may have been a part of who he was but it certainly wasn't all of who he was," said Fowler.

Heather Vipperman is mother to 6-year-old Charlie, who has a high functioning form of autism. Charlie is also often misunderstood.

"He is a loving child. He will hug my neck and come up and tell me he loves me and I think that is a misconception too that they don't have the same kind of emotional attachment," said Vipperman.

They both say the key to understanding the disorder lies in education.

"The more you can educate, get to know, talk to the parents. it makes all of us a better community," said Vipperman.

Fowler tells us that studies have shown people with disabilities are more likely to be victims of crime rather than the cause.

She just hopes people are not scared of those with disabilities.