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Advocates worry people with Asperger Syndrome will be bullied

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Advocates worry people with Asperger Syndrome will be bullied
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Everyone is looking for answers, some explanation as to what led to the shooting in Newtown. At one point, authorities said they thought the 20-year-old shooter may have had a disorder called Asperger Syndrome. But advocates for those with the disorder and other mental health disorders worry this diagnosis could lead to unjust bullying of those suffering from it. Our Katie Gibas tells us exactly what Asperger's is and why it shouldn't be linked to what happened in Newtown.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- In the hours and days following the massacre, people searched for answers, a reason, a cause. Authorities had noted the shooter, 20-year old Adam Lanza may have had Asperger Syndrome.

"There is no research saying that children with Autism or Asperger's or even mental health are more apt to create this level of violence than anybody else. So it's preposterous to link the two together. And that irresponsible statement is being put out there as a link and it's just not," said Dr. Carroll Grant, Margaret L. Williams Developmental Evaluation Center Director."

Asperger's on the Autism spectrum. It is categorized by poor social skills and coordination, narrow interests and speech difficulties. Some people might be very quiet and withdrawn. Others are overly talkative.

"They may not look at you when they talk to you. They may not get it if you use a little bit of sarcasm. They love to delve into a certain topic and explore it to the nth degree," said Dr. Grant.

Niamh Doyle, an Upstate Medical University Licensed Psychologist added, "The big thing about Asperger's is while there are these criteria an individual would have to meet, no two individuals are alike."

Because of their poor social skills, those with the disorder are more likely to be victims of violence rather than the cause of it.

"Bullying has got to be an issue, which is one of my concerns with how this story has taken off. Then you have an individual with Asperger's. Will they be then targeted by other bullies, people assuming or treating them in any way different, thinking that there is some kind of link," said Doyle.

Advocates say awareness about the disorder is key to break down these misconceptions. They also say patience and understanding will go a long way to help those suffering from Asperger's.

"If you get the right kind of services and treatments and help from teachers, you can develop these skills. It's not a simple cause of well I don't understand that I shouldn't talk about this particular topic right now. You can learn that okay, you can talk about it for a certain amount of time. Or you can learn to read facial expressions that someone's interested in what you're saying and when they're not," said Doyle.

Advocates hope that out of this attention on Asperger Syndrome will come more conversation and awareness about the disorder.

For more information about Asperger Syndrome, check out the links below.

www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/asperger

kidshealth.org/parent/medical/brain/asperger

www.aspergers.com

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