An Excellent Letter from Missoula County Public Schools

Subject: An important message

An Important Message for All MCPS Staff:

In reporting on the tragedy in Newtown, CT, the shooter has been identified by some media as having autism or Asperger Syndrome. These reports may be considered to imply that autism might have had an impact on the alleged shooter’s mindset leading to the shootings.

We believe that it is critical to share some important information with you and set the record straight.

There is absolutely no evidence, or any reliable research, that suggests a linkage between autism or Asperger Syndrome and planned violence. To imply or suggest that a linkage exists is wrong and is harmful to more than 1.5 million law abiding, non-violent and wonderful individuals who live with aspects of autism each day. Stereotyping an entire group of citizens because of the actions of one individual is wrong and unacceptable.

MCPS has a number of students diagnosed with autism, autism spectrum disorder, or Asperger Syndrome. It is essential that we support our students with these challenges. Be very aware that this tragedy can, unfortunately, provide material that might be used to attack students thought to have any aspects of autism spectrum disorder. It is critical that we be hyper-vigilant in support of our students with autism, Asperger Syndrome and other related social disabilities.

Please do not judge anyone diagnosed with autism/Asperger Syndrome on what is being said about the young man who apparently killed innocent children and teachers in Connecticut. Rather, our nation’s attention must be focused, as it is in MCPS today, on supporting our teachers and students as they work to find a sense of normalcy in our schools.

We appreciate your important contributions to MCPS! Don’t hesitate to send any questions you may have.

Karen Allen, Executive Regional Director, Region 3/Special Education Director

Further information can be found at http://www.autism-society.org