SUNDAY, Dec. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Despite media reports alleging that the gunman involved in the Connecticut school shootings had Asperger's syndrome, experts were quick to assert Sunday that there is no link between the condition -- a mild form of autism -- and violence.
"There really is no evidence that links autism or Asperger's to violence," said Geraldine Dawson, chief science officer at the nonprofit advocacy group Autism Speaks and a professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
There has been speculation that 20-year-old Adam Lanza, the gunman who perpetrated Friday's senseless massacre at an elementary school in Newton, Conn., had Asperger's, which is considered a high-functioning form of autism.
Lanza fatally shot his mother at her home before forcing his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School and killing 20 children, aged 6 and 7, as well as six adults and then himself. It is one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history.
A law enforcement official involved in the case, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Associated Press that Lanza had been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome.
Asperger's has its own designation in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-4), considered the Bible of psychiatry, which has been in use since 1994. However, as of the spring of 2013, when the new DSM-5 comes out, "autistic disorder" will be known as "autism spectrum disorder" and Asperger's will be folded within that larger category.
Certain characteristics are common across the autism spectrum, experts said.
"Two features that characterize autism spectrum disorders are difficulties in the area of social interactions and also a tendency to engage in repetitive behavior, whether this is a high-functioning person or one who's severely affected," Dawson explaine
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