That seems to be the thinking behind some recent murder cases that have used AS as a mitigating factor to explain a defendant's violent behavior and cast doubt on soundness of mind and appreciation of criminal responsibility. According to a Boston Globe article, "the Autism Society of America said there have been 22 criminal cases in the United States since 2002 in which convictions were avoided in part because of an Asperger syndrome diagnosis."
That strategy is being tried again in the case of John Odgren, a 16-year-old who is accused of stabbing a 15-year-old classmate to death after a fight that began in a school bathroom. Again according to the Boston Globe article, Ogdren's "attorney, Jonathan Shapiro, said Odgren has Asperger syndrome and has been taking medications for many years. Shapiro, who did not return a call Saturday, told the court on Friday that Odgren has a 'serious disability.'"
Not to diminish the potential seriousness of an Asperger's diagnosis, or the social isolation and anquish teens with AS may feel, but -- is it appropriate to be using the syndrome as a murder defense in this way? Does it unfairly make kids with Asperger's seem more weird and dangerous in the eyes of the public, thereby increasing that social isolation? And is it irresponsible to blame Asperger syndrome for behavior that may be more related to coexisting mental illness and, possibly, the medication used to manage it?
Express your opinion in the poll at right, and share your thoughts in the comments.