16 December 2012

Can I hide somewhere until it's over?

Trigger Warning: Ableism, violence, ableism about violence and disability, and ableist quotes.

17 December 2012: This post is edited to reflect additional Google searches. I have also added citations to peer-reviewed reports and studies.

Can I hide somewhere until it's over?

In the last twenty-four hours, various pages on this blog were found after Google searches for the terms
  • are autistic people more likely to kill
  • commonaility of mass murderers shootings autism aspergers
  • how many mass shooters were autistic?
  • aspergers mass murderers
  • are mass murderers autistic
  • percentage of all murders committed by people with autism
  • autistic violent "home anymore"
  • how often do autistics commit crimes later in life
  • has there ever been a mass murderer with aspergers
  • autism mass shootings 
  • how many autistic people commit murders 
  • are people with autism dangerous
  • how many of 2012 mass murderers had aspergers?

Part of me is horrified and appalled that people are searching for these phrases and finding this website. And part of me is thankful that they're finding and clicking through to this site instead of somewhere else.

Here are some facts.
  • Autistics are more likely to be victims of crime than perpetrators.
  • When Autistics commit crimes, being Autistic rarely has anything to do with the actual crime.
  • Autism is not violence.
  • Mental health disabilities aren't violence.
  • People with mental health disabilities are also more likely to be victims of crime than perpetrators.

Here are some citations. (N.B. I use the language of the study authors to describe their results.) The links should be to copies of the PDFs where I was able to obtain them, and to the abstract where I wasn't.
  • This study showed no association between Asperger syndrome and criminal behavior. (Kalpana Dein and Marc Woodbury-Smith, 2010.)
  • This study also reiterates that most Autistics are law-abiding people. (Nachum Katz and Zvi Zemishlany, 2006.)
  • This study actually found a prevalence rate of violence of 2.7% in people with Asperger syndrome, which is below the prevalence rate of violence in the general population. (M. Ghaziuddin, Luke Tsai, and N. Ghaziuddin, 1991.)
  • This study found that adults with "severe mental illness" are eleven times more likely than non-disabled adults to be victimized by crime. (Linda A. Teplin, Gary M. McClelland, Karen M. Abram, and Dana A. Weiner, 2005.)
  • This study reviewed a number of other studies to demonstrate significantly higher levels of violence and abuse against people with developmental disabilities--which includes Autistic people--than the general population. (Joan R. Petersilia, 2001.)
  • This study found that "the mentally ill" are far more likely to be victims than perpetrators of violence, and questions the supposed link between "mental illness" and violence. (Heather Stuart, 2003.)

Here are some answers to those Google searches.

are autistic people more likely to kill
No. We're less likely to kill.

commonaility of mass murderers shootings autism aspergers
Not common, not by a long shot.

how many mass shooters were autistic?
No idea. Does it matter?

aspergers mass murderers
Asperger's doesn't make someone a mass murderer. Ever.

are mass murderers autistic
I'm sure there have been Autistic mass murderers. There have also been Muslim and Black and Women mass murderers. That doesn't make all mass murderers Muslim or Black or Women, nor does it make them all Autistic. And being Autistic doesn't make someone a mass murderer.
percentage of all murders committed by people with autism
No statistics. There was a study not too long ago that showed that autistic people have a slightly lower rate of violent crime than the general population. Citation is lying around somewhere. No spoons to get it.

autistic violent "home anymore"
No idea what you were trying to find. I can tell you though that we're not generally violent people, because, hey, autism doesn't create violence.

how often do autistics commit crimes later in life
Not as often as the general population, according to a study on "Asperger disorder and violence." Pretty sure that's the title of the paper. I don't remember the year or authors. If someone reminds me, I might upload a PDF that people can read.

has there ever been a mass murderer with aspergers
See "are mass murderers autistic" above.

autism mass shootings
See "are mass murderers autistic" above.

how many autistic people commit murders
See "percentage of all murders committed by people with autism" above.

are people with autism dangerous
Not any more or less in general than anyone else. Specific Autistics may be more aggressive than specific non-Autistics, but it's not a reflection on Autistic people in general.

how many of 2012 mass murderers had aspergers?
See "percentage of all murders committed by people with autism" above.

I'm sad.

I'm having difficulty forming words, and I have things to write and study. It's finals period. I have several pages to write about something tangentially related -- the abuse and torture of disabled people -- and I've got an exam coming up in one of the most ableist fields of all time. I scribbled out something to submit as an op-ed somewhere, and who knows, maybe they'll publish it. I wrote a short poem, an emotional response, really, to the shootings the other day.

I'm intentionally avoiding the news and the blogosphere and Tumblr and Facebook, really, too. I made the mistake of posting a link to one particularly good response to a problematic article on my own personal Facebook page, and it's been flooded with comments, only some of which are actually helpful and supportive. A lot of derailing going on there. Now I remember why I've been avoiding public conversations about this stuff.

I just want to cry. And hide.

Can I hide somewhere until it's over?

You can read my responses to similar media accusations about Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian gunman, at "The Dangers of Misrepresentation," or the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting at "All I want to do is weep."


  1. I think some people do violent thinks after they have been hurt a lot in their own lifes. Some, not all. Wether autistic or not. So if you take into account how much someone has been hurt autistics aren't more violent.

    But... all this thinking... is this or this group more or les group more violent is not right, I think. It's not wrong too... it's difficult to describe... It's just everybody simply does what he does, nothing else. It depends on his personal history, his personality.

  2. You can hide until it's over if you need to.
    But I think your voice is as important now as ever.

  3. I've been on image boards and news articles on the internet all day dispelling the association people are making between autism and violence, and explaining how there is no relationship. How depressing that something comes and pulls Aspergers back into public attention just as the new DSM is ushering it out the door, right? Anyway, I wish I could just hide somewhere until this all blows over too; it's been a depressing and extremely frustrating day. However, we don't have the luxury of being able to hide. If we hide, then who will spread the truth? It's a frustrating obligation, but it's people like us who have to make sure that we try out best to make sure that what is said about us is true, accurate, and appropriate-- otherwise, the only voices to be heard will be those of the people who threaten to perpetuate falsehoods.

    1. totally forgot I had a blogger account. (Its Andrew)

  4. You are not alone. I'm right there with you, feeling the same way. All we can do is spread awareness, and wait for this to pass.

  5. Thank you. We're all with you.

  6. Don't have much to offer; the past few days have been crushing. Just wanted to let you know that this stranger appreciates you and your work. I and others will do our best to help boost your signal over the rest of the noise. Thank you so much for what you do.

  7. ((((HUGS)))) You are NOT alone. We will overcome this someday. Keep the faith, my friend.

  8. I'm sorry, I understand and I can relate to how you are feeling.

  9. You've done all you need to do (thanks for reading your poem, btw). Now hunker down and study.

  10. Wow. I am getting "autism violence statistics," "aspergers sandy hook," "sandy hook killer autism," which means the media did a really good job of linking us in the public mind with mass murder. My blog post is here: http://paulacdurbinwestbyautisticblog.blogspot.com/2012/12/mother-with-asperger-syndrome-grieves.html

  11. I really appreciate your post here to counteract the media's hype about autism which is untrue. I feel like all of us on the spectrum need to stand up and voice our own thoughts about this issue with the media. Why does the media do this?

  12. Thank you so much for taking the time and energy to put this together, especially with citations.

    You also have my sympathy, and I do hope you are taking care of yourself first, including if that means hiding til it's all over.

  13. I think this might be the study you are looking for that was recently done, that indicates that the crime rate among individuals, studied in a 20 year longitudinal study, with ASD's, was slightly higher than half of the reported crime rate in the general population.


    The full study is linked within the article linked above from the Simon's Foundation

    "Myhre’s team investigated marital status, mortality and criminal records, and disability pension awards for 113 individuals who would meet contemporary criteria for autism. Of that number, 39 fall into the PDD-NOS category. More than half the participants — including 23 of the 39 with PDD-NOS — have an intelligence quotient (IQ) of 70 or less.

    All were treated in the children’s unit at the National Centre for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in Oslo, Norway, between 1968 and 1988. The researchers tracked these participants using government-issued identification numbers.

    They found that by age 22, 96 percent of the group had been awarded a disability pension from the government. Nearly all were unmarried — 99 percent of those with autistic disorder, compared with 92 percent of those with PDD-NOS. The crime rate for the group as a whole was little more than half that of the general population, although more individuals with PDD-NOS than autism had been convicted of a crime."

  14. Come out of your moldy cave. Don't hide, Princess. It's a long way from over.

    Vorya Yarow,
    At your service

  15. I've never killed anyone. Unless it was to defend myself or my family, I never would. It does hurt. We're always going to be treated differently. We're always going to be outcasts. We can't conform to what the world wants us to be, and quite honestly: why should we?

  16. Promise the world won't always suck so much. Be brave?

    *offers cookie, cake, hugs if wanted and all my respect forever because what you write really, really does help*

  17. Re hiding: Of course, you must do what you have to do. But I agree with the other commenters who hope you don't. Yours is an important voice that should be heard. I hope you get those finals done and keep on writing. Thanks.

  18. Thank you for this blog....I have become outraged by my sons own grandmother that said he will become what this kid did....

  19. I think NTs are wary and suspicious of us because of the difficulties we have connecting with NTs. They have an instinctive mistrust of those who seem to stand apart from social networks. We give the impression of being beyond the control of society because we aren't really a part of its fabric or something. We are therefore viewed as dangerous.

  20. If you hide, we'll hide too. You are our canary. If something happens to you,it will be coming for the rest of us.


Hi! Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. I manually approve comments, so sometimes it takes a few weeks, months, or even years to find and approve comments. This delay is normal. (Note that I also don't publish every comment, since this is my personal blog.) Unfortunately, anonymous commenting isn't available anymore since it resulted in over one million spam comments in a short period.