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Institute Co-Executive Directors Release Statement on Tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT

December 2012

"...We urge the media and other community leaders to be responsible in their portrayal of individuals with disabilities."
      --Celia S. Feinstein and Amy S. Goldman

The Institute on Disabilities extends its deepest sympathy to the community of Newtown, CT. Some media reports have identified the shooter as diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome or another Autism Spectrum Disorder. Individuals on the autism spectrum and others with Developmental Disabilities are no more likely to commit a violent crime than people without disabilities. Individuals on the autism spectrum, as well as people with disabilities of all kinds, are more likely to be the victims of school bullying and violent crimes than the perpetrators.

We urge the media and other community leaders to be responsible in their portrayal of individuals with disabilities. Such inaccurate condemnations have historically forced Americans into institutions and removed them from their families and communities. Instead of generating fear of people with disabilities and further ostracism, this tragedy should highlight the need for proper supports and services for individuals with disabilities, and for their families. Quality community, educational and behavioral health supports need to be available for individuals throughout their lives. In particular this situation underscores the fact that individuals with psychiatric disabilities must have quality supports available to them.

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