Posted by: rbbadger | January 22, 2012

The Changing World of Asperger’s

The American Psychiatric Association is all set to revise the Diagnostic and Standard Manual, the first such revision in seventeen years.  The DSM-V is basically a guide for the diagnosis of developmental disorders, mental illnesses, and other problems of a neuropsychiatric nature. 

Since the 1980s, the number of children diagnosed with autism has skyrocketed.  Some doctors, fearing that too many children are being diagnosed as autistic when in fact they’re not have urged a review of the issue.  I do understand that autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning that there’s a wide variety of different behaviours associated with autism and not all of them are found in all patients.  However, some experts find the current wording in the DSM-IV too vague.  On the other hand,  some parents of children who have been diagnosed with varying degrees of autism are indeed worried, given that their ability to receive therapy for their children from the state as well as disability payments later on, could be negatively impacted.

You can read more about that here.

I had the occasion to do some reading on Asperger’s Syndrome recently.  I was, to put mildly, a bit of an unusual child.  My interests diverged sharply from those of my classmates.  While many of my classmates were into sports, I developed a loathing for American football that I retain to this day.  Instead of a mere recreational hatred, as far as I am concerned, it is something I truly loathe.  To be honest, I had only the vaguest idea of who Joe Paterno is and no idea who Jerry Sandusky is.  I sympathise greatly with the late Robert Maynard Hutchins, a former president of the University of Chicago who killed off both the football programme and fraternities, seeing them as distractions to the university’s purpose.  On the other hand, I truly have enjoyed going to baseball games with friends.  I really think that there’s a need to make sure that persons who are a bit odd are not diagnosed with AS automatically.  In looking at what constitutes AS under the terms as defined by the DSM-IV, I can see that there might be a  likelihood that I would have been diagnosed with AS had I gone to elementary school in the 1990s.  However, I remain somewhat skeptical of it all.  I don’t doubt that there is such a thing as Austism or Asperger’s Syndrome.  However, I’m also troubled by the vagueness of the diagnostic criteria.  The experts seem to be troubled as well.



  1. We are pretty sure that Joshua has AS. I keep swinging back and forth about getting him tested. I don’t want to have him tested and come out positive and then feel like he’s not good enough because he’s different, but on the other hand I wonder if it would help for him to be officially diagnosed. He seems happy enough overall, but I just wonder.
    I guess I’m not very familiar with the diagnostic criteria, but I do think it needs to be spelled out pretty plainly. I’m not really wanting to seek federal help as I don’t like feeling like I’m digging the nation deeper into debt, but I would like to know how to better help Joshua if he does indeed have AS. It seems like if I knew for sure I could maybe better figure out how to, for example, motivate him to be quicker with his math homework. I just don’t know.
    And I wonder, too, how life would have been for you if you had been diagnosed at a young age. I wonder if it would have changed things and in what way. It’s all kind of mind-boggling.

  2. Christine, how can your post be posted Jan 24 when it’s only Jan 23rd? I think you need to make this a matter of prayer for inspiration and guidance. Every child is different. Every situation is different. Is his teacher complaining?

  3. Actually, when I was a child, AS was not even on the radar. It was only placed on the Diagnostic and Standard Manual, Fourth Edition in the 1990s.

    I suppose that my long absences have prevented me from knowing my nephews better than I do. Hyrum is a very normal, outgoing kid. I always remember Joshua as very sensitive. What symptoms do you think he has?

    If indeed he has AS, there is no cure, but it can be managed. I really, really urge you to get your hands on Tony Attwood’s book The Complete Guide to Asberger’s Syndrome. Thanks to the wonder of ILL, you can get it through your local library if they don’t have it.

    I don’t know how having been diagnosed with autism would have helped me. I suppose in retrospect, it does explain a lot of things. The thing that has to be communicated to Joshua, if indeed he does have it, is that he’s not sick or weird, but that he’s different and that being different is OK.

    We all stumble through life and everybody has challenges. Some have more than others. May God guide you in your decisions.

  4. Yes, that is precisely what I want for Joshua if he is diagnosed. Different does not always mean bad, and I don’t want him feeling like because of his differences he can’t succeed. There is no reason why he can’t succeed, and whether or not he’s diagnosed that is something I want to make very clear to him.
    I’ll have to look for that book. Thanks!

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