Letter to the Editor in response to Boston Bombings story

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Dear Editor:

I am writing in regards to your recent article “What we learned from the Boston Bombing” which was published in the school newspaper on May 22nd, 2013. I have some concerns and reservations about the information published in regards to the correlation between, violence, isolation and Asperger’s. The headline indicates that we have learned something from the recent acts of violence, that isolation plays a key part “they will continue to turn to violence” in the decision making of these acts and then additionally, stereotypes individuals with Asperger’s as isolated individuals.

In working with individuals with Asperger’s for the past fifteen years, in multiple environments, it is quite concerning to see such information posted more so, information that has not been validated by a certified source (such as Autism Speaks, and/or a medical doctor). To start, the article first indicates that “the true threat lies not with the weapons, but within the people behind the weapons” and states that “until our communities begin to work tirelessly to reach out to people who feel isolated and to care for them, they will continue to turn to violence.” This clearly suggests that people who feel isolated then defer to acts of violence. The Observer article then proceeds to comment about the Newtown Connecticut case quoting, from the CNN March 29th article, that “Lanza rarely left home and was constantly playing violent military style video games.” However, the information preceding this “diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome which can cause a lack of empathy and poor social skills, may have contributed to his isolation” does not come from said source, and suggests that individuals with Asperger’s can be isolated thus seeking out acts of violence. This claim again is not found within the CNN article which in fact states “Research has not shown a link between violence and that condition, a high- functioning form of autism marked by social awkwardness.” instead. Additionally, the

definition/characteristics listed pertaining to Asperger’s is not credited but can be defined as “having difficulty with social interactions and exhibiting a restricted range of interests and/or repetitive behaviors.” (Autism Speaks, 2013) With the title indicating “What we learned…” it troubles me, as it suggests that “we have learned” that individuals with Asperger’s are or feel isolated and that “they will continue to turn to violence.” WCHS is a growing and respected community both inside the school and out. Churchill is known to create awareness for many organizations and mistaken facts read in the school paper could go against any actions implemented to support this cause.

It is my hope that in reading this letter someone will use the information to their benefit; educate themselves and the community more accurately on this specific topic.


Jaime Marchese
Special Education Teacher

Tishya Soni-Chopra
Resource Teacher Special Education