Amid the aftermath of the horrific massacre at UC Santa Barbara, where 22-year-old Elliot Rodger murdered six people, the news of Rodger’s prior extensive mental health treatment has fueled speculation of a potential link to autism.The Autistic Self Advocacy Network responded May 24 with a statement criticizing the media coverage of the alleged links between mental illness and violence.
“The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is concerned by the proliferation of misinformation which may contribute to increased stigma and discrimination against Autistic Americans,” ASAN stated in a news release. “Autistic people are no more likely than any other group to commit acts of violence.
“People with disabilities of all kinds, including autism, are vastly more likely to be the victims of violent crime than the perpetrators.”
Rodger, in fact, was never diagnosed with autism.
After the Sandy Hook massacre in December 2012, it was unveiled that the shooter, Adam Lanza, had Asperger syndrome, a milder form of autism. The massacre prompted a major push by President Obama for mental health reform and significant pushback from disability advocacy groups.
“As we have in the past, we should come together to mourn tragedies when they occur, hold responsible only those who have committed them and fight against any attempt to exploit such incidents to advance an agenda of bigotry and prejudice,” ASAN said in the statement. “We urge the media to be responsible when reporting on tragic acts of violence occurring in our communities.”