Why Asperger’s Does Not Explain The Connecticut Shooting

By Emily Willingham

Some news coverage in the last 48 hours has mentioned autism in the context of the tragedy in Connecticut, particularly referencing shooter Adam Lanza’s possible Asperger’s or “high-functioning” autism. Talking heads have brought up the “empathy” factor when discussing autism, and I’d like to set some of the record on that straight.

Empathic ability comes in two forms. One is the social ability to recognize the emotion someone is feeling by following social cues, subtle vocal fluctuations, and other nonverbal communications.