Respvblica was the first news source in the world to suggest that Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock suffered with Autism Spectrum Disorder (one form of which was formerly called Asperger Syndrome). Now, more evidence uncovered by reporters and law enforcement authorities supports our theory.
Not only was Paddock obsessed with the numerical algorithms that helped him win big at video poker, not only was he loathe to play poker with other human beings, but he was far more limited, socially, than that. Neighbors reported waving to him or saying hello and getting no wave or hello back. His marriages could not be sustained. His recent girlfriend was repeatedly jettisoned to wait outside the room for him while he gambled on machines.
Paddock was also, apparently, fascinated by guns—collecting dozens, along with thousands and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
Paddock also reportedly insisted on wearing gloves at all times while driving. He reportedly moaned to himself while attempting to sleep.
Until proven, otherwise, the leading theory, we at Respvblica.com contend is this: Stephen Paddock displayed the fascination with numbers, video gaming and mechanization (guns, in this case) and the discomfort with personal relationships, and emotion that is typical of those with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
The vast, vast majority of those with Autism Spectrum Disorder are peaceful, kind individuals who are, themselves, the victims of a mental illness. They victimize no one. But a tiny minority of those with this disorder can become very, very violent.
Adam Lanza, the young man who fatally shot 20 children and 6 adults in Newtown, Connecticut (Sandy Hook Elementary School) apparently had Autism Spectrum Disorder. Seung Hui Cho, who killed 32 people at Virginia Tech, apparently also had Austism Spectrum Disorder. So, too, did Jeffrey Dahmer. One study estimated, in fact, that 28 percent of murderers who killed more than three people suffered with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Too little has been done to understand and respond to the potential internal rage that could build inside those with Autism Spectrum Disorder as they find themselves unavoidably marginalized—not able to sustain substantial employment, not able to create families and not able to enjoy or even fathom the purpose of large social gatherings.
Remember, one of the hallmarks of Autism Spectrum Disorder is a lack of human connectedness—which can also manifest itself as a lack of empathy for others.
With the apparent rise of Autism Spectrum Disorder in our population and the rise in mass shootings that seems to mirror it, we at Respvblica.com suggest it would be wise for the National Institute of Mental Health, the Surgeon General and law enforcement agencies to collaborate on a human, sensitive, non-stigmatizing and effective program to educate mental health providers about the need to screen those with Autism Spectrum Disorder for any violent intent.
Keith Ablow, MD and Joshua Resnek