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October 20, 2007

October 20, 2007

As a child and teen, I had no concept of how to relate with people. Then again, even if I did know (or thought I knew) what to do, the words usually did not come out the way I intended them. It made life very frustrating. I started getting better at it in my 20s, 30s, and 40s. However, even now (at 51), I sometimes commit social faux pas.

IMO, the disadvantages of being an Aspie are largely a consequence of being a neurological minority. Perhaps it is analogous to being left-handed in a right-handed world.

“Autism” was not added to the DSM (as a separate category) until 1980; and Asperger’s was not added until 1994. Prior to 1980, at least under the DSM, you were either diagnosed with childhood schizophrenia (if you were a child) or with schizoid personality disorder (if you were an adult). In 1980 (the DSM-III), they first acknowledged that they had made a mistake. Children with Kanner’s syndrome (classical autism) were not necessarily schizophrenics. I myself was a victim of a variant of this problem. By today’s standards, I should have been diagnosed with AS and comorbid OCD. Instead, I was diagnosed with childhood schizophrenia and was treated by the psychiatric establishment as if I were “psychotic” (including being given a series of eletroconvulsive therapies). Studies have shown that ASDs are (or at least can be) inherited. However, because no one was officially diagnosed as “autistic” (in the U.S.) prior to 1980, it can be difficult to trace back (to do “genograms,” in the technical jargon). Anecdotally, my father is, I believe, an Aspie. We also believe that my great uncle (my paternal grandmother’s brother) was autistic.

I went back and read through the DSM-I, the DSM-II, the DSM-III, and the DSM-IV:

www.psychiatryonline.com/DSMPDF/dsm-i.pdf
www.psychiatryonline.com/DSMPDF/dsm-ii.pdf
www.psychiatryonline.com/DSMPDF/dsm-iii.pdf
www.psychiatryonline.com/DSMPDF/dsm-iv.pdf

Autism is only mentioned in connection with childhood schizophrenia and schizoid personality disorder in the DSM-I and DSM-II. For the first time, in the DSM-III, the APA acknowledges that there is a difference between “infantile” autism (Kanner’s syndrome) and schizophrenia. The DSM-IV is the first to mention Asperger’s.

If someone was diagnosed as autistic, it was not an official DSM diagnosis.

I was bullied throughout my entire childhood and into my mid-teens. One fellow, in 7th grade, pushed me against the wall and broke my sternum. Years later, we were graduate students at the same university (different departments). He saw me one day, came over, and started chatting. He was being especially nice. However, he never formally apologized.

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