Toronto Van Attack & Asperger\’s Syndrome

Last week, when the Toronto van attack occurred on Monday, April 23rd, individuals were quickly looking to learn more about the driver who killed 10 people and injured an additional 16.

Alek Minassian, who has been charged with 10 counts of murder and 13 counts of attempted murder, has been described by former classmates and acquaintances as someone with social difficulties and behavioural tics. It was noted that there was a possibility that the alleged driver has Asperger\’s syndrome, a clinical diagnosis currently considered to be part of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

This created a flurry of commentary in the media but autism advocates have been quick to respond. They have noted that autism does not typically cause violence or motivate an individual to drive a van into pedestrians on a crowded city street. Additionally, many individuals who knew Minassian noted that he had social difficulties but in their experience individuals with autism are not normally violent to this level.

It\’s important to understand that autism isn\’t responsible for the Toronto van attack. The situation was extremely unfortunate and sad. This should never have happened and everyone has a heavy heart for the victims of the attack. However, it\’s important as a society that we don\’t point fingers and begin to assume that all individuals who have autism or Asperger\’s Syndrome will be violent. It is not the case – at all.