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No proven link between violence and Asperger's disorder

6:37 AM, Dec 18, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut has the country asking for a motive.  Reports that say the shooter had Asperger's and other mental health issues have surfaced and are causing concern over mental disorders.

"Just because you have one person that does this that may be on the spectrum, you can't link every child to this because everyone is different," says Jill Hill Fame, a mother of a child with Asperger's and a local advocate for the disorder.

Jill Hill Fane is a mother of two. One of her children has Asperger's.

"When he was about two he stopped being verbal, so we started seeing a decline or a regression in his behavior and his communication. He then stopped looking at us when we talked to him and those were the things that concerned us," says Fane.

Fourteen years ago her son was diagnosed. Since then, he's received behavioral therapy for his disorder.

"My son for instance is very honest, very blunt, if he doesn't like something he's going to tell you to your face, he has not learned the social cues," says Fane.

Dr. Hilleary Rockwell is a Pediatrician in Jacksonville and says signs of any disorder on the autism spectrum can be detected as early as one or one and half years old, but violent behavior is not a link to the syndrome.

"People with Asperger's generally are not violent, they're not a problem, a dangerous person to interact with they may just not respond socially in a way that you would think would be standard," says Dr. Rockwell.

Still, after some Newtown shooting reports said the shooter may have had mental health issues, such as Asperger's or autism, some in the community were alarmed.  

"People with Asperger's aren't going to be doing this kind of thing, this is not something that's expected to see someone with Asperger's doing and I think if you look at most people in the country over the decade that we've had mass shootings they don't have Asperger syndrome," says Dr. Rockwell.

Fane says she's become an advocate for children with Asperger's and autism and says every child is different. As for her son, although he's faced challenges other children do not, he has learned to integrate himself into society.

"He is very intelligent, very smart, reads, writes, does all those kinds of things you know we're preparing him for a life outside of high school," says Fane.

First Coast News

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