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Removing The Asperger Diagnosis
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Removing the Asperger Diagnosis

I was not aware that this was happening until I received my son’s diagnosis back in March of Autistic Disorder. I had expected a diagnosis of PDD (Pervasive Developmental Disorder) or AS (Asperger Syndrome) since my son is very high functioning.

As the Doctor explained the diagnosis, she also explained that the reason my son did not receive the Asperger diagnosis is because they are removing this from the DSM (Diagnostic and statistic manual of mental disorders). Asperger’s will now be referred to as "High Functioning Autism".

I was surprised to hear this. I know that the diagnosis of Asperger’s has only been in the medical journals since 1994, but already they are removing it?

I have not made up my mind yet on how I feel about this, because as I said, my son has only been very recently diagnosed. It is a bit awkward when I tell people my son has Autism instead of Asperger’s, because although people do notice that he is a bit different, he certainly does not fit what the average person thinks of as classically autistic.

Most people envision “Rain Man” when they think of Autism, and this is so far from how my son is. In fact I remember the first time the suggestion of Autism was made to me as a possible diagnosis for my son. Immediately I thought of Rain man, and said “No, my son isn’t like that”.

It wasn’t until this person explained that there was another term Asperger’s that might fit my son more appropriately. Then I started reading, a lot. And I realized that this was my son.

A lot of people still give me a puzzled look when I mention the term Asperger’s, because even though it has made great strides in being known, still the majority have never heard of it.

Autism is much more recognizable term, and doesn’t require an explanation.

Just recently there have been great strides made in insurance coverage for Asperger’s, but previously there was next to none. Most had to depend on personal resources or organizational help to get therapies that a person diagnosed with Asperger needed.

I decided to start reading about the reactions NT (neuro-typical) people and “Aspies”, as they have named themselves, have reacted to this change.

I found there is strong opposition to the change of classifying all Asperger’s in with an autistic label. And most of this opposition comes from people who are diagnosed with Asperger’s.

Reason sited are;

  • Asperger individuals have embraced and some take pride in the title of “Aspie” and are reluctant to have this change.
  • Reclassified individuals with the mildest form of Autism (Asperger’s) might have to undergo unnecessary therapies meant for classically autistic children.
  • Concerns that the autistic label will lose it potency and become overused and a catch-all.

There are countless websites dedicated to the Asperger diagnosis. What will happen to all the organizations and websites?

Will an Aspie re-term himself, or will he continue to call himself an Aspie?

I am still researching to find out exactly what kind of impact, good or bad this might have on my son. I do think that it could be beneficial. I believe and hope that insurance coverage will be much less of an issue. I believe that with the change, it will be recognized that a person diagnosed with High-functioning Autism will not require the same treatments as a person diagnosed lower on the spectrum and that therapies will be tailored according the the individuals needs. So How do I feel about it? I'm still not sure. There are both pros and cons to this change.

How do you feel about the removal of the Asperger Diagnosis?

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