Autism vs. Asperger’s Syndrome

This morning I came across this article, which outlines the American Psychiatric Association’s decision to change “Asperger’s Syndrome” to “mild autism” as a diagnosis. As a person with Asperger’s Syndrome (or, an Aspie, as we like to call ourselves) I am undoubtedly opposed to this ludacris transition. Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome are two separate entities, and for the sake of progressing research of the two, it is necessary to keep them as such. Not only does combining the diagnoses demean Aspies, but it creates terrible misconceptions between the two disorders.

This is not to say it would be insulting to be accused of having autism, but the disorder is a serious downstep from Asperger’s. While the two disorders share symptoms such as social deficiencies, fine motor skill impairment, and an intense interest in one subject, Aspies typically have average to above-average IQs while people with autism tend to have below-average IQs. Another important distinction is that Aspies have above-average language skills, while people with autism typically have severely impaired language skills.

Methods of treatment between the two disorders are also different: children with autism are typically placed in schools specifically for autistic children, while Aspie children are usually put in mainstream schools. This forces Aspies to engage themselves in necessary social experiences for becoming an effective citizen of this country, and if they were to be put in a school for autism they would not gain these skills.

Another downside to this switch is that people will not understand the difference between mild autism and autism. With Asperger’s there is a different name, and people therefore assume there is a difference. However, if the names were to be similar, there would be less distinction between the two. Changing the name would be a step backwards for the disorder.

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