Monday 8 July 2019

Asperger's: should it stay or should it go?

Just now a question was posed on a local autism (autistic-run) Facebook page that I follow. The person writing it asked what people thought about the "loss" (ie. removal) of Asperger's as a separate diagnosis.
(Quick note: in the US and other places that use the DSM-V diagnosticians no longer give it because it does not exist as a separate diagnosis in that book, it is all "autism spectrum disorder/condition"; here in the UK and other parts of the world we use the ICD-10, which includes Asperger's and is the criteria with which I was diagnosed, but the ICD-11, when it eventually comes out in January 2022, will follow the DSM-V with no separate Asperger's category.)

The page added the hashtag #keepAspergers.

This is the comment I made:

My formal diagnosis is Asperger's. Quite frankly, I'm happy to see it go, resigned to the history books.

  1. Asperger's as a separate diagnosis causes confusion - that separation from "autism" makes people think that that means it isn't autism, or isn't "real" autism.
  2. Following on from 1, some people/systems use it to deny supports because it is generally associated with not needing as many supports as those with a diagnosis of "classic autism". People go, "Oh, it's only Asperger's so they'll be fine, they don't need support/accomodations, they're just being difficult" (I've had more or less exactly that said to me, as have a number of my friends with an Asperger's diagnosis).
  3. It's an arbitrary, unnecessary division - the only real difference between an "Asperger's" diagnosis and an "autism" diagnosis is whether the person reached developmental milestones earlier than/in line with the average or whether they reached them later than the average. By the time someone reaches adulthood, does it really matter what age they were when they reached those milestones, if they reach them?
  4. It gets used as a functioning label, an alternative to "high functioning autism" (and functioning labels are divisive, restrictive and extremely harmful, and need to be resigned to the history books).
  5. The "Aspie supremacists" hang onto it in their desperate, misguided effort to feel superior to neurotypicals (often evident in such statements as "the next step in human evolution", etc) and those with a "classic autism" diagnosis who require more support, whom the Aspie supremacists regard as inferior and from whom the supremacists wish to distance themselves. A lot of these people support eugenics and believe that autistics with high support needs should be prevented from existing.
  6. Hans Asperger was an actual Nazi who was actively complicit in eugenics, sending autistics deemed "useless eaters" etc to the death camps. Quite frankly, no way in hell do I want to be associated with that.

These days I simply say "I'm autistic" and it does me perfectly well.


Since I posted my comment (which is what I have written in this post), the page's post seems to have disappeared. Maybe it's a Facebook glitch or but I suspect they didn't like my response so took the post down (mine was the only comment) because there is no record of me commenting in my Fb activity log (which generally indicates that a post has been removed). Knew I should have taken screenshots...

Maybe I'm being cynical and there are other reasons. We shall see.
I could write an entire essay on the subject (and I'm sure I will at some point!), but this was a quick five-minute effort and I'd like to post it. Short but sweet, and all that.

I'll be blunt - that's a cowardly move if it was because of my comment, and if so,I am deeply unimpressed with their actions. I have also since discovered that this page seems to support functioning labels. NOT a fan.

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