Statement on Newtown Elementary School Shooting

(Los Angeles, December 15, 2012) – Following new details that have emerged relating to the identity of Adam Lanza, the suspected shooter of 26 people – 20 of whom were children – at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, Special Needs Network, Inc. and Co-Founder & President Areva Martin, Esq. issue the following statement in regards to reports that suggest a link between the shooter’s violent crimes and autism:

“Our hearts go out to everyone affected by the mass shooting that occurred in Connecticut on December 14. While there have been much dialogue surrounding the identity and mental health of the shooter, there is insufficient information at this time to make any conclusions. However, we are deeply concerned about reports that the shooter might have autism.

Our extensive experiences in working with individuals with autism and related developmental disabilities and our consultation with our medical team allow us to state with confidence that there is no correlation between autism and the violent crimes committed against the students and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Autism is a developmental not a mental health disorder.

Therefore it is irresponsible to disregard this important fact and engage in harmful speculation regarding the shooter’s reprehensible actions. As in similar tragedies, we are hopeful that the important mental health issues in this matter will be fully explored as more facts are revealed. We stand with other children advocates and call on every level of government to move expeditiously in ensuring the safety of our nation’s kids by any means necessary.”

Founded in 2005, Special Needs Network, Inc. (SNN) grew out of the struggles of Areva D. Martin, Esq. after her son Marty was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2. After finding it incredibly difficult to access services for Marty, Areva became aware of the enormous challenges faced by families affected by developmental disabilities in underserved communities. Focusing on health and human services, education and awareness, and outreach and advocacy, our programs have provided resources and services to more than 20,000 families to date, effectively establishing Special Needs Network as the premier nonprofit organization in South Los Angeles working on issues of autism and related developmental disabilities.

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