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ARI Autistic Global Initiative Committee's Statement on the Newtown, CT Tragedy

The staff at the Autism Research Institute is deeply saddened by yesterday's tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. In the hours following the attack, some in the media reported the shooter may have been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. This morning, the leadership of ARI's Autistic Global Initiative project - a committee of adults diagnosed with autism spectrum conditions - issued the following statement:

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the community of Newtown, Connecticut today in the wake of yesterday's tragedy. Some public comments have drawn potentially inaccurate and stigmatizing conclusions about a link between the diagnosis and a propensity for violence and lack of empathy.  


Autism is not a mental health disorder - it is a neurodevelopmental disorder. The autism community has long labored toward building understanding, awareness, and trust within communities throughout the United States and the world. As adults with autism living productive, peaceful lives, we urge the media and professionals who participate in speculative interviews about the motives of the accused shooter to refrain from misleading comments about autism and other neurodevelopmental disabilities. The eyes of the world are on this wrenching tragedy - with 1 in 88 now diagnosed, misinformation could easily trigger increased prejudice and misunderstanding.  Let us all come together and mourn for the families and exercise the utmost care in discussions of how and why it occurred."


Valerie Paradiz, Ph.D.

Director, Autistic Global Initiative 

on behalf of the AGI Executive Leadership & the Autism Research Institute




About ARI: 

The Autism Research Institute's mission is to meet the needs of the global autism community through research, networking, education, and support for families and people of all ages on the autism spectrum. Established in 1967 by psychologist and renowned father of modern autism research Dr. Bernard Rimland, ARI continues to pioneer in research, outreach, and cooperative efforts with other organizations worldwide. ARI advocates for the rights of people with ASD, and operates without funding from special-interest groups. Media Contact