Santa Barbara shooter and autism

Last night, a shooter identified as Elliot Rodger, shot and killed several people in Santa Barbara, California. Today, the BBC had an article about the alleged shooter after his family identified him:

“He said the son had Asperger’s syndrome, had trouble making friends and had been receiving professional help.”

Let’s make it clear to anyone that tries to pin his rampage on his autism that autistics are far more likely to be the victims of violence than to be the perpetrators of violence. All the evidence states that someone who “snaps” and kills people and is autistic didn’t do it because of the autism but because of all the other things that happen in the mind of someone who “snaps.” All things equal, neurotypical people are more likely to be those who “snap,” but society likes answers to questions about monsters. There will be plenty who will point to this young man’s autism and say that the answer to his horrible actions is his autism. They did it with Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook Elementary shooter.

The truth is that the answer to why there are monsters in the world is more complex than that. And you’ll be very likely to be very wrong if you bet that the answer is autism.

4 thoughts on “Santa Barbara shooter and autism

  1. The vast majority of autistic (and NT) people aren’t violent — a tiny minority are. The fact that folks with autism are much more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators is true — but that doesn’t mean the occasional person with autism won’t commit a horrific crime. Like this kid and Adam Lanza.

  2. ‘All things equal, neurotypical people are more likely to be those who “snap,”’

    I’m not too sure about that one. I’m quite willing to bet that the incidence rate is close to or equal between the two.
    ASD doesn’t have a high rate of spree crime, any more than neurotypical people do, but both share one thing in common.
    Both groups are still human.

    But, as you said, the media will pander to the popular desire to find answers where none are present and present monsters to confront, especially when none are present.
    After all, sensationalism sells.

    • I think Reuben is spot on. Non-neurotypical people don’t have as much access to guns because of laws to keep them from owning them. Or many of them don’t have the executive function to plan an attack like this. Or they’re medicated and won’t do this because other things in their mind are being addressed. Neurotypicals, on the other hand, just snap and no one sees it coming.

      • I’m thinking more along the line of Asperger’s. I’ve worked with quite a few people with Asperger’s, as many do gravitate toward IT fields.
        Of those, many are not medicated for psychological issues and can and do possess firearms.
        Indeed, the only “problem” I’ve ever had was riding herd on their activities, keeping them on-project and not going off on some personal tangential interest.

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