By Stephanie Stahl
WEST CHESTER, Pa. (CBS) – The shooter in Connecticut is reported to have a neurological condition called Asperger’s syndrome. It’s on the autism spectrum, people with Asperger’s are usually very smart, but they have difficulties with social skills, and can have odd behaviors. Experts say while it’s often misunderstood, it’s not linked to violence.
Twenty-three-year-old Erin Clemens who lives in West Chester, was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome when she was a teenager. Adam Lanza, the Connecticut shooter also reportedly had the condition and many have wondered if his Asperger’s had something to do with the violent outburst at the school.
“It has nothing to do with Asperger’s. It’s like saying, ‘Okay he had brown hair,’ and I just feel that it’s a real shame that it’s been connected when it’s not the truth,” said Erin.
Experts say people with Asperger’s aren’t violent. They are considered highly functioning on the autism spectrum. Most notably, they’re socially awkward.
Erin says, “We are capable people, we’re kindhearted, we can be very intelligent and we have so much to give to this world.”
Since the shooting, Erin and millions more have turned to social media, where there’s been lots of conversation about Asperger’s.
“On Facebook people were getting extremely emotional.” says Erin.
She now works at an animal hospital and says being undiagnosed for so long was the most difficult. It’s estimated 50 percent of people with Asperger’s don’t know they have it. “What people need to know about Asperger’s and Autism is that we are all different,” Erin says.
Doctors say people with Asperger’s tend to be loners and often have eccentric or repetitive behaviors. Because it was only recently recognized as a unique disorder, it’s not known how many people have it.
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