A Note from Ivymount School in Maryland regarding the Newton Murders

 December 18, 2012
Posted by M&LAdmin4

Tuesday December 18th, 2012

Dear Ivymount Families:

We have received requests from parents to share a perspective   on autism in relation to the tragic incident in Connecticut.  We know   that many of you serve as ambassadors in your community to educate about autism   and to help your friends, neighbors and colleagues to better understand   autism spectrum disorders.

The following was prepared by The Ivymount School’s   psychologist, Dr. Steven Kane:

Many questions are being asked about the role of mental illness   in the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy.   Although news reports have   raised the possibility that the shooter had an autism spectrum disorder,   experts have been quite clear that autism had nothing to do with his violent   behavior.  The violent act he committed was rooted in a severe mental   illness, not autism.

The U.S. News and World Report’s online HealthDay   report quotes Dr. Geraldine Dawson, who said:  “There really is no   evidence that links autism or Asperger’s to violence.” Geraldine Dawson   is chief science officer at the nonprofit advocacy group Autism   Speaks and a professor of psychiatry at the   University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The notion that a lack of empathy in this violent act   implicates the shooter’s alleged Asperger’s disorder mischaracterizes the   social-emotional deficits that are central to the autism experience.     Individuals with autism exhibit difficulty understanding  nonverbal   social cues and reciprocating in social relationships.  This does not   mean they are emotionally indifferent.  Individuals living with autism   are capable of deeply-experienced feelings and concern for others.  Many   are socially motivated but lack the skills to effectively manage complex social relationships.

We hope that you may use these clarifications to educate   others about autism.  We also invite you to visit these helpful Autism websites:

Autism Speaks

Organization for Autism Research 

We have added an additional resource   that was researched by Ivymount’s Mental Health Department that you may find   helpful in your discussions with your children.

Today, and likely periodically this week, the Montgomery County
Police Department has assigned a patrol officer to Ivymount during   morning arrival.  This is a police presence that is occurring at schools   throughout the county.  Please know that we took the opportunity today   to have Ivymount’s established emergency procedure plans reviewed by these   officers and they were deemed to be to very thorough.

Our entire staff was present this morning to welcome your children to school and we had a productive and successful day.

Sincerely, Jan Wintrol Director, The Ivymount School & Programs

Stephanie deSibourAssistant Director, The Ivymount School & Programs

RESOURCES for Helping Children Cope with Tragedy:

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