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Expert to Newtown panel: Violence, autism not tied

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A commission looking into the Sandy Hook Elementary school massacre in Connecticut has been told there is no data linking people with autism to increased violent criminal behavior.

But Matthew Lerner, a psychology professor at Stony Brook University, told the panel Friday there are traits associated with autism that often explain behavior when those on the spectrum do come into contact with the legal system. Those include impulsive and compulsive behavior and the inability to understand social motives and emotional situations.

He told the governor's Sandy Hook Advisory Commission there is nothing that links autism to the type of planned mass murder that occurred in December 2012 in Newtown.

 

Recently released documents show that gunman Adam Lanza had been diagnosed in 2006 with a profound autism disorder that included a ``lack of comprehension of ordinary social interaction and communications.''  His father, Peter, told police that his son had Asperger's syndrome, a type of autism that is not associated with violence.

The 16-member commission is holding its 17th meeting Friday. It is charged with reviewing current state public safety policies and making recommendations about school safety, mental health, and gun violence prevention.

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