RICHLAND, Wash. - There are reports that Adam Lanza, the gunman in the Connecticut school shooting, was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. That is a high functioning form of autism.
Bill Peters, of Richland, has the same condition and he's upset the neurological disorder is making national headlines for something so violent.
"Since there's no doctor coming out and saying it, I think it hurts. It further stigmatizes us who have autism or Aspergers," Peters said.
There is a growing fear in the autism community that people believe the diagnosis is being associated with violence. Autism typically involves social awkwardness or repetitive behaviors. Some can't speak or communicate clearly.
"I don't want people coming away with the idea that people with autism are violent people. We're not. We do have meltdowns and the meltdowns are because of our inability to deal with the situation sometimes," Peters said.
Aggressive behavior is generally directed at family members or close caregivers, rarely against someone they don't know and hardly ever with a weapon.
Peters started a local support group: Three Rivers Autism Outreach. The group also works to diffuse autism myths or misconceptions. He encourages anyone with questions to find the group's page on Facebook.