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Santa Barbara gunman had Asperger’s: Was he screaming for help?

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Elliot Rodger’s family and social worker warned police about disturbing videos weeks before he went on the May 23 shooting rampage that shook the Santa Barbara university community. Peter Rodger, assistant director of The Hunger Games series, was alarmed by YouTube videos about suicide and killing people according to family attorney Alan Shifman.

The police interviewed Elliot but found him to be a “perfectly polite, kind and wonderful human." However Rodger was lost in a world of loneliness and perceived rejection. A high functioning individual with Asperger’s syndrome, he described life in his blog.

"Being lonely in a beautiful place like Santa Barbara is truly a horrible experience," he wrote. "As I've said many times, a beautiful environment can be the darkest hell if you have to experience it all alone, especially while having to watch other men walking around with their girlfriends. I wish girls were attracted to me. I don't know why they aren't."

In one of his videos the 22-year-old virgin describes life as nothing but loneliness and misery. "It doesn’t make sense. I do everything I can to appear attractive to you," Rodger said in a message to women in general. "I dress nice. I’m sophisticated. I’m magnificent. I have a nice car... I’m the ultimate gentleman. And yet, you girls you never give me a chance. I don’t know why." He even said that he never even held a girl’s hand.

Asperger’s syndrome is a form of autism. Just as most people don’t fully understand the various types of autism, adults with Asperger’s (Aspies) are usually misunderstood. They are often very intelligent but can exhibit a variety of behavioral impairments. Many have difficulties with understanding social interactions.

In Elliot’s case he may have misunderstood nonverbal communications (gestures, facial expression). He most likely had difficulties understanding social situations and a limitation to connect with others in an appropriate way. In some ways he was a normal young man trying to understand the complexities of relationships with young women.

Aspies may be socially clumsy and may not be able to empathize with others. Aspies often misunderstand situations and think their grasp of the facts is correct. If told “you misunderstood,” an Aspie might argue otherwise.

Rodger used writing to express his frustrations with life even as a teen. "When your a kid you dont have to worry about things like being attractive or how many girls like you. No one has unfair advantages. Then when you hit puberty and your life either becomes heaven on earth or a living hell. It all depends on how many girls like you or if girls like you at all. My life turned into a living hell. No girls like me and I hate them all for it."

Ironically the Santa Barbara Independent published an article on May 8, 2014 titled "Lecture: Living and Thriving with Asperger's Syndrome."

To my readers: Many of the shooting rampages in recent years were committed by individuals with mental disabilities and whose rants were not taken seriously enough. This time Elliot’s father and social worker tried to warn the police but the attack happened anyway. There has to be something good that comes from the loss of innocent lives. Perhaps someone will come up with the answer this time.

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