Now Reading: Why Reading “The Shooter Was Mentally Ill or Autistic” Doesn’t Bother Me

Why Reading “The Shooter Was Mentally Ill or Autistic” Doesn’t Bother Me

So the shooting in Oregon.  So tragic.  I rarely watch the news because I just can’t handle it.  And I will readily admit that I am not up to speed on this one.

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What I do know is that first they said the shooter had mental illness, and now they are saying he might’ve been on the spectrum.
And when the first quote about the shooter having mental illness came out I saw some people complaining that this was going to give mental illness a bad name.  That saying the killer was mentally ill was going to make people think that all mentally ill people are potential killers, and would make some people who need help resistant to get help.
I think that is all utterly ridiculous.  In my humble opinion, saying the killer had a mental illness is like “No Duh!”
Anybody capable of doing what this guy did is mentally ill!  All serial killers are mentally ill!  Maybe they weren’t being treated for it.  But to do the things they did they have to be mentally ill.
So I think that is a total non-story.  And that doesn’t upset me at all.  It mostly makes me annoyed that the media and the police are wasting their time determining if the killer was mentally ill.
Of course he was!  And who gives a f–k?!
Now saying the shooter might be on the autism spectrum, or might have Aspergers, that I could see folks getting a little more upset about.  But it honestly doesn’t bother me.
Because I don’t think people outside of the autism community are focusing on that.  
After one of these horrific acts happen, the news media jumps in and looks at the story from every possible angle.  First they report what happened.  Then they jump into what crazy stuff the killer had in his house.  Then they talk to the killer’s family.  Then they dive into his mental background and sometimes lately aspergers shows up in their profile.  Then the funerals of the victims start happening and then people finally start focusing on the victims.
In my opinion, to the general public the part of the story about the killer possibly being on the autism spectrum is just a blip on the radar to the whole story of the massacre.  The general public does not read that and think all autistic people are potential killers.  They just read it as part of the whole picture and then move on.
But we in the autism community get upset, and I get it, but I think us getting upset keeps the autism part of the story in the news longer than it would be otherwise.
People have short memories.  Nobody comes out of these massacres fearing autistic people.  Unfortunately, it seems that nobody comes out of these massacres having learned anything because they just keep happening (and in the USA at a crazy alarming rate).
So that’s my take.
Do I think some of these killers were on the spectrum?  Yes.  If it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.
Do I think that the autism contributed to them doing these horrific acts?  No, but I think loneliness, isolation, easy access to guns, and, yes, mental illness definitely contributed to them doing these horrific acts.
And yes, there are some Internet trolls that start these mean “autistic kids kill” facebook pages and we all get up in arms over these pages with good reason.
I just reported one, and yes it was obviously a troll, and nobody in the general public was paying it any mind… just autistic people & parents of autistic people.
And while on this horrible page I saw a news story from some small unknown, nobody reads medical website that the troll had posted to prove his point that autistic kids are killers.  
It was this story “Serial Killers More Likely To Have Autism, Head Trauma, Or Psychosocial Issues” and in it said very clearly:

“It is crucial to note that we are not trying to suggest that individuals with ASD or previous head trauma are more likely to be serial killers or commit serious crime,” said lead researcher, Dr. Clare Allely, from the Institute of Wellbeing at the university, in a press release. “Rather, we are suggesting that there may be a subgroup of individuals within these groups who may be more likely to commit serious crimes when exposed to certain psychosocial stressors.”

So that quote right there goes against the trolls whole idea.

And maybe I’m naive, but I think the general public is smart enough to make that distinction that the quote above makes… and if they aren’t smart enough then they are probably going to forget the autistic part of the story anyway.

Anyway, that’s my 2 cents.

Do you agree or disagree?

I am sure that you will let me know!



PS Notice how I never used the shooter’s name?  That was on purpose.  These people shouldn’t get any attention or notoriety.  That I believe.

Written by

Frank Campagna

I’m a 48 year old neurotypical dad with a 14 year old son with severe, non-verbal autism & epilepsy. I created this blog to rant about autism & epilepsy while celebrating my son who I affectionately call “the king” :-).

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8 People Replies to “Why Reading “The Shooter Was Mentally Ill or Autistic” Doesn’t Bother Me”

  1. I agree that saying a murderer has a mental illness is kind of obvious. As a psych major, I've seen the stats, and well over 90% of criminals have some mental illness. (The biggies tend to be personality disorders, addictions, ADHD, depression and PTSD in most studies, in case you're wondering.)
    But I have to disagree with this:
    "Nobody comes out of these massacres fearing autistic people."
    I have heard autistic adults describe being targeted by people who think they're violent because of their diagnosis. There was even a guy who posted online about someone he knew with Asperger Syndrome, asking if he should call the police on this guy (even though he hadn't done anything) because he figured this guy was a school shooter in waiting.

  2. He stated those that kill have a mental illness. He did not say those that have mental illness kill

  3. You have absolutely no idea what you're talking about and have done zero research on anything. Frankly you're an idiot. Characterizing people with mental illness as violent absolutely does impact how mentally ill people are treated. Read the goddamn news. There was a suicidal woman who was recently murdered when her daughter called the cops to assist in getting her mental health treatment, and because the cops assumed that she would be violent, both the daughter and the mother were killed. There was a homeless, mentally ill man in California who was tazed and shot to death several months ago because he was wandering the foothills and had the cops called on him and the cops overreacted and killed him because they assumed he would be violent. Characterizing killers as mentally ill absolutely DOES impact the care of mentally ill people. And I say this with more authority than just being an 'autism parent' (which is a shit designator by the way, you are not autistic and therefore really have no right to call yourself that), I suffer from bipolar disorder and psychosis and have also completed multiple research projects exploring mental illness and sexual assault. I am also in training to become a counselor. The stigma of mental illness increases greatly every single time we assume that everyone who does a violent act must be mentally ill. Neurotypical people can and do commit violent acts. And the fact that you say that someone who murders people MUST be mentally ill is exactly that kind of ableism that has to be combated. In short, screw you. You have no idea what you're talking about.

  4. Willie

    I have real high functioning autism plus NeuroFfibromatosis a genetic nerve tumor disease. For every person with autism that kills 150-200 people WITH autism are murdered whether high or low functioning autism. Yes a few real aspie have died from many issues that were avoidable. Read autism memorial or lives lost to autism blogs for more information. One story on these sites was a child with tuberous sclerosis a similar condition to what I have. It could be murder neglect or poor quality health care or an avoidable accident does not matter. Only Adam Lanza was confirmed with autism he must have been brainwashed somehow. The disabled rights advocate do not give a rats butt all they care about is wheelchair related lawsuits and there Downs syndrome special Olympic athletes and their issues not autism mild or severe. I think autism is mostly environmental not genetic this goes way beyond a few thousand cases of a vaccine injury what about a drunk driver accident and brain damage from the car crash of an innocent kid or of industrial lead and mercury pollution a la Minamata Japan in the 1960's?! I could give a few dozen more examples.

  5. Anonymous

    I take everything I read in the press or see on the news with a grain of salt. The media makes its money by getting people to tune in. You accomplish that by sensationalizing headlines with BS statistics and half ass intelligence gathered by what ever means. I love my autistic child. Does he have the ability to hurt himself or others. But so does any human being on this planet. To label Autistic people as potential shooters only make the ignorant and uneducated fearful of my child. Which in my opinion might not be a bad thing. I've read way more stories about trusting Autistic children being manipulated, humiliated, and hurt by NT bullies than kids on the spectrum hurting NT kids.
    My dream is for my child to aspire to "Archer Autism": Archer being an adult spy cartoon show that hints throughout the series suggest that Archer has Asperger syndrome: he is often the only character to count bullets during gun fights, including multiple automatic weapons; this coupled with his ability to identify the make and model of firearms allows him to ascertain when enemies are reloading. He is able to identify the make and model of a blender in Fugue and Riffs just by hearing the sound it makes through the phone, and he has an unusual affinity for animals and is able to 'converse' with Babou and Kazak. Archer also shows an inability to pick up on social clues and a lack of empathy on the cognitive level, rather than being void of it entirely, and seems to be unable to dress himself without help from Woodhouse. Another characteristic is his voice, which stays very monotone and changes only in response to strong emotions, particularly rage. The possibility of Archer being on the autism spectrum is directly addressed in the episode Coyote Lovely; when asked if he is autistic, Archer seriously considers the possibility. Call me crazy but I'd be OK with a spy as a son.

  6. Honey Halley

    Considering the number of people being diagnosed with autism growing exponentially and the characteristics that many people who have autism portray such as being non materialistic, loving, introverted, in tune with the unknown, focused, intelligent, etc. , when things like this happen it convinces me even more of my theory that autism is less of a disease and more of evolutionary design. Maybe hundreds of years from now everybody will have autism and the world will be a much better place without people who have (for lack of a better on the spot example) the latest iphone in their pocket and no food in the refrigerator for their children). I'm not sure if what I'm trying to say is coming out right but one thing that I think about is that autism is similar to the invention or adventure that makes the majority of people think the risk taker is crazy until it becomes revolutionary. That helps ease my fears for their future because history has shown that people can adjust and figure out how to survive and it's less scary to think of the future when I'm not longer in it to help protect my loved ones in a world of people with autism than it is to think of them in a world mixed with people who hurt others because they think…

  7. personally…i just want this madness to stop. on the spectrum or not… the PTB COULD stop this, but they never will. instead they'll just shuffle it under the rug, into the closet, out of sight out mind (until the problem happens again). If they really stop this for good, then how would they make their money? They are in a subgroup way way way way way above the rest of us… we are just ants to them from up in the airplane. but that's just me trying to make sense of all this. you can agree or not.