Please, try your hardest to not say “Aspergers.” Yes, I know you hear it a lot these days, especially when autism is the topic of discussion. And you may be wondering, “If everyone else is saying it, what’s the big deal?”
Well, you should note that the medical community has changed the way it talks about Aspergers. To explain this change, I’ll need to give a little background about Asperger’s.
Aspergers, or AS, is shorthand for the medical term Asperger’s Syndrome. It is a medical diagnosis named after child psychologist Hans Asperger.
Asperger noted that the disorder affected one’s cognitive and language abilities. In particular, individuals with AS have a difficult time maintaining conversations. Poor eye contact is also common along with a fixation with specific topics. Individuals with Aspergers also have challenges with taking the perspective of others. In some instances, individuals with Aspergers also display unusual or repetitive behaviors.
Persons with AS often have certain areas where they excel. They are often very intelligent and have a strong ability to memorize information. Areas could include mathematics and history, for example. Often they focus on the minute details rather than the big picture. They also have difficulty understanding abstract information.
Change in the Aspergers Label
There are a few disorders that share similar characteristics. For example, classic Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder-NOS. In the past, each of these disorders was in a separate category. Yet, their characteristics were sometimes difficult to differentiate. Those similarities made diagnosing a challenge. To solve the challenge, doctors changed how they spoke of these different conditions. They decided to combine them all under the Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis. Doing so would allow doctors to then rate the severity of each client on the Autism Spectrum.
So since 2013, doctors refer to “Autism Spectrum Disorder” instead of saying “Aspergers.”
Today the Autism Spectrum has three levels. These levels are all based on the intensity of the individual’s symptoms. So the scale goes from mild (Level 1) to moderate (Level 2) to severe (Level 3). So once diagnosed with ASD, individuals then get therapy that matches their severity. In short, these changes increase the accuracy of diagnosis and treatment.
A.D. Daisley holds a Masters Degree from the University of Central Florida and has been working in the field as a Behavior Analyst since 2005. He has provided services to children and adults with varying diagnoses such as autism, mental retardation, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). His scope of experience also includes coordinating therapy to individuals and families in conjunction with other supports including School Teachers, Adult Day Training Facility Staff (ADT’s) and Speech/Occupational therapists. He is the Director and Behavior Analyst at Alternative Outcomes since 2007. A.D is also the Director of Creátre, a non-profit organization that uses the arts for the purpose of skill training, outreach and to display community leadership.