Statement on Autism and Criminal Acts
West Columbia, SC- May 10, 2017 – News stories are circulating in our state regarding some very tragic situations where the individuals accused or convicted have been diagnosed with autism or suspected of having autism. We at the South Carolina Autism Society feel compelled to issue a statement in support of the 1 in 68 individuals in our state with an autism spectrum disorder.
Please note that there is no evidence or reliable research suggesting a link between autism and violent crimes. Further, no evidence exists to link autism and premeditated violence (Gunasekaran, S., & Chaplin, E. (2012)). It’s important for our society to realize that suggesting that any violent crime is caused by autism is not only wrong but also harmful to the people affected by an autism spectrum disorder.
There are many other factors that need to be evaluated regarding these cases outside of the presence of an autism spectrum disorder. These factors include, but are not limited to, drug and alcohol use, undiagnosed or untreated psychiatric conditions, prior criminal activity, prior victimization, family history, and personal beliefs or prejudices.
Our society must not stereotype everyone with an autism spectrum disorder because of the actions of a few individuals. The vast majority of people with an autism spectrum disorder are law-biding citizens and non-violent members of our community. In fact, individuals with autism and those with other disabilities are typically more likely to be victims of violent crimes than the actual perpetrators (Hughes, K., Bellis, M. A., Jones, L., Wood, S., Bates, G., Eckley, L., … & Officer, A. (2012)).
The Mission of the South Carolina Autism Society is to enable all individuals with an autism spectrum disorder to reach their maximum potential. We will continue to work toward an inclusive community where everyone, including those with autism, are valued as contributing members of society.
For additional information on autism, to get support for yourself or your loved one with autism, or to find out how you can support our Mission, please visit our website at www.scautism.org. We can also be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 803-750-6988.
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