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US Autism & Asperger Association
December 20, 2012

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Media contacts:
Lawrence P. Kaplan, PhD, USAAA Chairman, 801-816-1234
Phillip C. DeMio, MD, USAAA Chief Medical Officer, 216-901-0441
Professor Stephen M. Shore, EdD, Self-Advocate, stephen@autismasperger.net

Inaccuracies Stigmatize Individuals Affected by Autism/Asperger Syndrome

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - December 20, 2012 - US Autism & Asperger Association (USAAA) (www.usautism.org) has been flooded by requests from parents of children with autism and Asperger Syndrome asking for help because their families and children are being isolated and verbally abused, as a result of the inadvertent linkage of violence to autism and Asperger Syndrome from media reports during the recent tragedy in Connecticut. Dr. Lawrence P. Kaplan, PhD, USAAA’s Chairman, expressed concern that the continued speculation on the perpetrator’s diagnosis attaches unwarranted and dangerous stigmatism to autism spectrum disorders.

"We need more accuracy and factual reporting," said Dr. Kaplan. "Individuals affected by autism spectrum disorders are in dire need of support in their communities. Speculation on the perpetrator’s diagnosis, whether autism related or not, has the potential to create an environment of harm for vulnerable populations."

Dr. Philip C. DeMio, USAAA Chief Medical Officer, has spent thousands of hours treating countless persons affected by autism, Asperger Syndrome and related disorders. "Asperger Syndrome does not include violence as inclusionary nor exclusionary diagnostic criteria," said Dr. DeMio. "I do not know of any bona fide evidence that shows that the perpetrator had a current diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome. The media has incorrectly linked violence to Asperger Syndrome. The nation's focus should be that of support for the victims and their families."

Self-advocate, author and USAAA Advisory Board Member, Dr. Stephen M. Shore, EdD, Professor of Special Education at Adelphi University, shared his concern about inaccuracies. "People on the autism spectrum can make mistakes, wrong decisions, and engage in bad behavior - just like the ninety-nine percent of the population who are not on the autism spectrum," said Dr. Shore. "Since the shooting, I have heard people in the autism community questioning, 'Gee... can this happen to me because I am autistic?' Those on the autism spectrum are not more or less likely to engage in violent behavior than the rest of the population. Having autism doesn't mean we don't have feelings and are not just as heartbroken by this incomprehensible act."

"As a society, we are shocked and bewildered by this horrific event," said Dr. Kaplan. "USAAA calls upon the media to report accurately and responsibly, and refrain from remarks that may generalize any diagnosis, such as Asperger Syndrome, as inherently violent.

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About USAAA: US Autism & Asperger Association (USAAA) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization for Autism and Asperger education, support, research, and solutions. The goal of USAAA is to “Provide the Opportunity” for individuals with Autism, Asperger Syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental Disorders to achieve their fullest potential.  In 2010, USAAA produced the first ever live stream of an autism/Asperger conference in its entirety. It was the most viewed autism/Asperger conference in the world. For more information, please visit www.usautism.org or call 1-888-9AUTISM.

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©2012 US Autism & Asperger Association, Inc.
P.O. Box 532, Draper, UT 84020-0532
1-888-9AUTISM (1-888-928-8476) , 801-816-1234