I was alarmed when I heard that Elliot Rodgers had been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. That was one of the first things I heard about Adam Lanza after he killed 26 at an elementary school in Connecticut.
The media gloms onto a diagnosis in an effort to make sense of the unexplainable, the incomprehensible. Unfortunately, it has the effect of casting others with the diagnosis in a very negative light. When unenlightened people hear a child has Asperger’s syndrome, or a future school, or employer, the word may cast aspersions on those who have the diagnosis. Accommodations? Why might you be needing accommodations?
When I saw the videos of Rodgers, I said to my kids, “He can’t have Asperger’s syndrome. He doesn’t strike me as a person with Autism.” He does strike me as a person who is very seriously mentally disturbed.
I could be wrong, this could just be Asperger’s in its worst form, but I don’t think so. If he did have Asperger’s syndrome, it almost certain that it is comorbid with other conditions. When my daughter was placed in an autism classroom, I became aware that having autism does not insulate you from other insults to the brain and body. Mary had classmates who were also blind, also epileptic, and/or mentally impaired. Mary has very mild cerebral palsy and severe learning disabilities, along with autism. When two or more conditions are present, they are said to be comorbid. My daughter had autism and the comorbid conditions of learning disabilities and cerebral palsy.
Adam Lanza’s father said that he doesn’t believe that Asperger’s Syndrome was the cause, that other mental problems were the issue. (http://time.com/19957/adam-lanzas-violence-wasnt-typical-of-aspergers/).
Elliott Rodgers may have Asperger’s Syndrome, but in my opinion it is very clearly comorbid with severe mental illness. We may find out that he was misdiagnosed, as some claim about Adam Lanza.