ASAN Statement on Media Claims Linking Autism and Violence

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Recent media reports have attempted to suggest a link between individuals on the autism spectrum and violent behavior. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is concerned by the proliferation of misinformation which may contribute to increased stigma and discrimination against Autistic Americans. Autistic people are no more likely than any other group to commit acts of violence. People with disabilities of all kinds, including autism, are vastly more likely to be the victims of violent crime than the perpetrators. There is no link between autism and violent crime. Similarly, there is no link between psychiatric disability and violent crime.

Attempts by pundits to stigmatize members of the autistic and disability communities due to the diagnosis or possible diagnosis of someone who commits a violent act are inappropriate and out of step with our country’s shared values. We are a nation committed to equality of opportunity and non-discrimination. Despite a long history of coming short of those goals, Americans continue to work towards a world in which everyone can enjoy full inclusion and equality. As we have in the past, we should come together to mourn tragedies when they occur, hold responsible only those who have committed them and fight against any attempt to exploit such incidents to advance an agenda of bigotry and prejudice. We urge the media to be responsible when reporting on tragic acts of violence occurring in our communities.