Due to media reports on the Umpqua Community College shooting, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network today issued the following statement:
“We join the nation in mourning the tragic loss of nine lives in the recent shooting at Umpqua Community College on October 1st, 2015. Recent media reports indicate that the shooter may have been on the autism spectrum. It is important that we take this time to recall that Autistic Americans are no more likely to be engaged in violent crime than the general population. This has been well documented. In addition, people with disabilities, including autistic people and persons with psychiatric disability, are far more likely to be the victims of violent crime than the perpetrators. As we mourn, we urge the media and policymakers to recall this and avoid promoting irresponsible and inaccurate links between autism, mental health and violence.
Research has indicated that Americans on the autism spectrum are no more likely than the general population to be engaged in violent crime. Autistic people make up between 1% and 3% of the population. As with any minority group consisting of millions of people, criminals do exist. They do not reflect the broader Autistic community and the heinous and unacceptable actions of the Umpqua Community College shooter should not be ascribed to an autism diagnosis. Such an assertion would be contrary to the broad array of research and evidence debunking any link between autism and violent crime.
This violence was and is the sole responsibility of the shooter. Millions of Autistic Americans deserve better than to be subject to fear, stigma and prejudice as a result of inaccurate information circulating about our disability. We urge media and other community leaders to accurately reflect in their communications on this tragedy the lack of any connection between our community and this violence. Autistic people are already significantly discriminated against in housing, employment, education and other sectors of American life. It would only add further to this horrendous tragedy if those responding to it chose to add to that stigma.
Media inquiries regarding the shooting should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network stands ready to provide accurate information regarding autism to any media or community partner that reaches out to us.”