ImaWestie

Raising little Westies, and life as parent of a special needs son

Autism. Aspergers. You tell me the difference?

It’s been coming for some time now. DSM-IV is to be replaced, by DSM-V.

Along with the deprecation of the term “retarded” as a description of intellectual capability, so to will “Aspergers” be deprecated, to become simply a superfluous means of describing a person on the Autism spectrum. For those lining up to paediatricians to have children either born already or yet to be born, seen and assessed, labelled for the convenience of the education system, this represents a simplification of a complicated ecology of service providers.

However, for those who have grown up over the last forty or so years, and the parents of those who are recently diagnosed… being Aspergian is as important (or more important?) than being male or female, asian, african-american, indigenous or white, athiest, christian or wiccan.

Far be it from me to have too much opinion here, because my own experience is as a parent having a son be diagnosed in an inconsistent manner, clearly told “well for want of a distinct diagnosis lets use PDD-NOS – it’s vague enough to cover anything.” That made way for “Classic Autism” which seemed quite appropriate at the time, however, some of the descriptors for Classic Autism are tied to very specific moments in the persons life.

Lately, Aspergers seems to have become a highly visible description for a set of behaviours and preferences. I wonder, if this description loses official status and predominance… how many people would line up to be diagnosed on the Autism spectrum as an adult?

Are you effected by this change? Do you feel strongly about it? I’d be overjoyed to hear your opinion.

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One response to “Autism. Aspergers. You tell me the difference?

  1. Gavin Bollard December 4, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    I feel that it’s sad to lose a descriptive word but good to level the playing field.

    I guess that it’s having a similar effect to perhaps, removing country designations. If for example, you could no longer say, John is an (Englishman, Australian, African, Japanese, Croatian, Lebanese etc) person. If you could only say John is a person.

    The loss would be a great deal of descriptive data. You could no longer infer and generalise about John. Sure, much of that generalisation would have been wrong but it still would give you a handle on someone. You might for example have wrongly assumed that John the African was black but you could possibly have correctly assumed that John the American doesn’t understand the sport of Cricket. That loss of data is sad.

    By the same token though, we’ve flattened out the structure. John is now a person. We can’t make any negative generalisations about his background and any inferences we make must come directly from John’s behaviour. We are now taking John at face value and I guess that has to be good.

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