NewsPage address: http://www.mnsu.edu/news/read/?id=1447698167&paper=ed
Local advocates speak out against linking autism with violence
Professor Karen Eastman shares her insight.
Karen Eastman, a professor at Minnesota State University specializing in autism spectrum disorder, said one myth about the disorder is that it prevents them from experiencing emotion.
“Another myth is that they don't care or don't have feeling for other people or they lack empathy,” she said. “But I have found them to be very caring people.”
That being said, those on the autism spectrum could have a hard time expressing those feelings, and because they have a hard time reading body language, could fail to recognize certain emotions in other people.
As a result, they may end up feeling ostracized or somehow different from their peers, as LaDue is said to have done.
Whether or not that perceived — or real — isolation could lead to violence is a point of some contention.
“Yes, some of them are aggressive,” Eastman said. “They can be especially when they're young, but that can also be a result of them being frustrated or overstimulated … but violence?”
She said the urge to commit physical harm cannot be directly linked to autism and is not widely considered a characteristic of the disorder.
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