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What is Asperger’s autism?

November 11, 2008

Someone on a forum just asked me to define Asperger’s autism. Here was my reply:

Asperger’s is one of the three major conditions generally classified as belonging to the autism spectrum. Classical (or Kanner’s) autism and PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified) being the other two. There are also other pervasive developmental disorders, such as Rett’s syndrome and childhood disintegrative disorder, but they are not included by most researchers and clinicians in the autism spectrum itself.

Asperger’s autism (also called Asperger’s syndrome and Asperger’s disorder) is, like the other categories of autism, a neurological difference which results certain differences in cognition and perception from so-called neurotypical, or neurologically typical, persons. One of those differences makes it difficult for many Asperger’s autistics to read nonverbal cues and to have difficulty functioning according to usual expectations in social situations.

For instance, it is very common for Asperger’s autistics to want, as children, to have friends, but to simply not be able to obtain them. Many Asperger’s autistics, myself included, went through considerable bullying. Those of my generation were frequently diagnosed as having childhood schizophrenia – back when schizophrenia was the catch-all for any neurological differences which could not otherwise be classified. Although I never displayed schizophrenic symptoms, I was subjected to electroconvulsive threatments (at 11 years old) and neuroleptic drugs.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Michael Polidori permalink
    August 8, 2011 12:38 am

    Being socially awkward, shy or reluctant to speak is a world of difference from being unable to socialize or speak. This is the range of difference between Aspie’s and autistics. There is not one parent of a child with autism who wouldn’t trade a limb or their life for their child to be “afflicted” with Asperger’s instead.
    I have friends whose daughter is diagnosed with Asperger’s. She is a handful, but a handful you can communicate with and who is creative, impulsive, intelligent, inventive. Another friend has a son with autism and he is a constant strain on the entire family wearing everyone down, constantly needing attention for EVERYTHING. There are long most-times fruitless hours of therapy. This is a trial only a parent could endure 24 hours a day… and a trial that some parents cannot endure, even for their own child
    The APA clearly describes all of the diagnoses on the mis-named Autism Spectrum of Disorders as PERVASIVE DEVELOPMENTAL DISORDERS. The 5th category, the catch-all PDD-NOS, clearly defines the rest of the diagnoses as different from each other, each one under the general label of PDD, and only one of them autism.
    Aspie’s and Autistics are as different in their behaviors, abilities, and potential as night and day. You know this but pretend otherwise
    The DSM-V definition of autism ranging from “deficits” in behaviors to completely disabling degrees of these behaviors is broad enough to encompass most developmentally challenged children & adults with a wide range of IQs. It is a poor attempt to further deny a connection to vaccines by denying by ommission any form of regression involved with autism. The summary of the 2008 February Conference on Autism & other pervasive developmental disorders uses the term “regression” 24 times, claims regression is underreported in CDD, Autism, and Asperger’s. Regression is the focus of 1 of 9 panels and in 2 of 3 breakout groups regression is expected to be part of any criteria on defining autism.
    But in the currently released DSM-V proposal regression is NEVER mentioned in autism, and mentioned only twice in the entire DSM. Clearly an agenda has been dictated to the APA. Your comments add to the confusion and the further shrouding of the facts and blurring of the defining differences between Asperger’s and autism

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