Doctors say Aspergers Syndrome does not make people violent - WNEM TV 5

Doctors say Aspergers Syndrome does not make people violent

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NORWALK, CT (WFSB) -

The Newtown shooting has put a new focus on Aspergers Syndrome, which is a disorder family and friends of Adam Lanza said he suffered from.

However, doctors treating patients with Aspergers are speaking out and said the disorder does no tmake people violent.

Lanza, 20, shot and killed his mother as she slept in her bed and then went to Sandy Hook Elementary School Friday morning, where he proceeded to shoot and kill 20 children, between the ages of 6 and 7, and six adults before shooting himself in the head.

Eyewitness News contacted by quite a few doctors and specialists following the shooting in Newtown. WFSB wanted us to know that violence is not a symptom of Aspergers.

The fact of the matter is family friends of Lanza said they know he had the disorder , however, Eyewitness News does not know much more than that.

Dr. Mark Goldberg ,who works at the Brain Balance Center in Norwalk, spoke with Eyewitness News Tuesday and said the shooter may very well have had Aspergers, but that was likely not what made him kill so many people.

"Knowing hundreds of children with Aspergers that I deal with personally, there are no violent types of behaviors in their profile," he said.

Doctors said Aspergers Syndrome is a disorder on the autism spectrum. Patients are often not able to process non-vernbal information because of an imbalance in the brain and are awkward in social situations.

Olivia DeVivo sat behind Lanza in 10th grade honors English, before his mother pulled him out to home school. DeVivo said he was very smart,but didn't like to speak in class.

"He just would get very nervous and his face would turn bright red and he would get very fidgety and you could just tell that it wasn't that he didn't know the answer it was just very difficult for him to say what he wanted to say," she said.

But, doctors said just because Lanza had Aspergers, doesn't mean that's what made him violent. Rather, it could have just been one thing the young man was suffering from.

"I would say we will absolutely find in this particular case, that there are other co-morbid, meaning other types of problems that this individual had, in addition to Aspergers, that led to this unfortunate circumstance," said Goldberg, who is a functional neurologist.

Goldenberg said of course we'll learn more as the investigation goes on and as more is unveiled about Lanza himself.

He said his main concern is that this incident will put a stigma on Aspergers, and make those suffering from it embarrassed to come forward. Goldenberg said that shouldn't be the case.

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