Autism Controversies cont'd

Asperger's Syndrome and Autism

At the present time, Asperger's syndrome is being classified as a separate diagnosis from autism in the DSM-IV, even so, it is still considered to be a autism spectrum disorder. The primary distinction between the definitions of Autism and Asperger's Syndrome in the DSM-IV is that autism involves a speech delay and Asperger's does not.

Many people however believe that Asperger's Syndrome, and Autism should not be given separate labels in the DSM-IV because in their opinion the differences in language acquisition are not significant enough to separate the disorders, or that Asperger's Syndrome and autism do not have definitive differences. It is also unclear as to whether a child with high-functioning autism who goes on and learns speaking skills should have their diagnosis changed to that of Asperger's Syndrome.  Some neurotypical children will develop their speech skills later than what is considered a normal time frame which can further cloud a diagnosis of Autism or Asperger's Syndrome.

Some people also believe that Asperger's Syndrome should not be considered a diagnosable condition, because they believe the symptoms associated with Asperger's Syndrome to just be signs of social maladjustment instead of part of a disorder.

Where do the Nerds and Geeks fit in?
Many have suggested that the so called 'nerds' and 'geeks' of society are in fact really persons with undiagnosed Asperger's Syndrome. This has been hotly debated by professionals who indicate that 'geeks' and 'nerds' simply exhibit normal variant behavior, and should not be considered a pathological behavior. Many people diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome believe their behavior is not abnormal and go on to reject any notion that any divergence from a supposed social ideal should be considered pathological. There are many cases where people who considered themselves to be 'geeks' or 'nerds' later went on to notice that a diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome may apply to them.

Since the terms 'geek' and 'nerd' are social stereotypes rather than terms that can be genetically or behaviourally defined, this issue has not been resolved. Some suggest that there is a trend to pathologize almost any variant human behavior, which could also be interpreted as a method of phasing out labels such as 'geek'.

Autistic' vs.. Has autism, or Asperger vs.. Autistic or Asperger's Syndrome
Many autistics who have expressed their thoughts on the Internet, have stated their desire for the word autistic to be used as both an adjective and a noun.  They further dislike the use of politically correct person-first terminology.  Donna Williams, has written about this group as culturists , distinguishing them from curists, who see autism as a condition requiring cure. Some persons with Asperger's Syndrome do prefer to be called Aspergerian or aspie. Others with Asperger's Syndrome prefer to refer to themselves as autistics, preferring to see themselves as part on one large collective spectrum, instead of having a condition which is different or can be separated from autism itself. There are, persons who take a more moderate view, who acknowledge a place for the treatment and management for the extreme functioning issues found in autism rather than seeing everything as either culture or cure.

The Person-first terminology is often preferred by many with medical conditions, such as AIDS or epilepsy, where it may help to remove some of the stigma associated with these illnesses. Many in the autistic community, including some persons who would be considered severely autistic, or low-functioning, feel that to use person-first language sends the message that autism is another such disease, something that can and should be cured. These autistics feel that autism is an integral part of their identity, that the person and the autism cannot be separated.

As with other such arguments involving the autism rights movement, many parents of autistic children disagree with the position taken by the autistic self-advocates. They believe that the autism of those they live with, is an illness, and that autism should not be considered as part of the person, and that the Autism should be removed or cured. Still others within the autistic community who do not like being autistic, and wish they could be cured and made non-autistic, also continue to prefer the person first terminology, as they do not want to identify autism as a part of themselves.

For more information about autism and the autistic community be sure to check out the resources available at answers-about-autism.

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