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 LINDSEY TANNER
AP Medical Writer

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In this photo taken on Feb. 10, 2010, Keith and Kelli Gibson of Battle Creek, Mich., pose for a photo in their home with their sons, front left, Kolten, 6, and Caiden, 7 and in the back, Keifer, 9, left, and Connor, 11. All four boys have different forms of autism. Their mother argues that a revision to lump together in a single “autism spectrum disorders” category, could make it easier for less severely affected kids, including those with Asperger’s and a variation called pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified, to get school services and treatment designated for autism. Gibson also says, she’d no longer have to use four different terms to describe her boys. (AP Photo/Scott Erskine)
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CHICAGO — In the autism world, “Aspies” are sometimes seen as the elites, the ones who are socially awkward, yet academically gifted and who embrace their quirkiness.

Now, many Aspies, a nickname for people with Asperger’s syndrome, are upset over a proposal they see as an attack on their identity. Under proposed changes to the most widely used diagnostic manual of mental illness, Asperger’s syndrome would no longer be a separate diagnosis.

Instead, Asperger’s and other forms of autism would be lumped together in a single “autism spectrum disorders” category. Some parents say they’d welcome the change, thinking it would eliminate confusion over autism’s variations and perhaps lead to better educational services for affected kids.

But opponents — mostly older teens and adults with Asperger’s — disagree.

Liane Holliday Willey, a Michigan author and self-described Aspie whose daughter also has Asperger’s, fears Asperger’s kids will be stigmatized by the autism label — or will go undiagnosed and get no services at all.

Grouping Aspies with people “who have language delays, need more self-care and have lower IQs, how in the world are we going to rise to what we can do?” Willey said.

Rebecca Rubinstein, 23, a graduate student from Massapequa, N.Y., says she “vehemently” opposes the proposal and will think of herself as someone with Asperger’s no matter what.

Autism and Asperger’s “mean such different things,” she said.

Read More …  http://ap.alaskajournal.com/pstories/health/20100211

/561688417.shtml

 

Move to merge Asperger’s, autism in diagnostic manual stirs debate

By Elizabeth Landau, CNN
February 11, 2010
 
(CNN) — For Mary Calhoun Brown, the term “Asperger’s” is crucial to conveying to schools that although her 15-year-old son has had social difficulties, he has a near-genius IQ and great speaking ability.

“If I call it ‘autism,’ that’s going to raise a lot of red flags for people who don’t know him,” said Brown, author of the novel about autism “There Are No Words.”

Both Brown and her son William are opposed to new guidelines being put forth by the American Psychiatric Association that would make Asperger’s syndrome part of the autism spectrum disorders rather than a separate diagnosis. In the current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, which helps mental health professionals identify specific conditions, it is not listed under autism.

The revisions are being considered for the DSM’s fifth edition, due in 2013. They were made public Wednesday at DSM5.org, and are available for public comment until April 20.

Read more about the proposed changes to the DSM

The clustering of Asperger’s and other developmental conditions with autism has generated a flurry of comments and concerns among people with the conditions, as well as parents.

The Asperger’s Association of New England, a nonprofit organization with more than 3,000 members, has written a letter to the APA committee in charge of revising autism diagnoses explaining that Asperger’s should remain separate, said Dania Jekel, the association’s executive director. The group is currently trying to mobilize other organizations to speak out and do what they can to see that the diagnosis remains in the DSM V.

“This is their identity, which is really being taken away,” Jekel said. “If everybody’s sort of lumped together, we’re going to lose that.”

Brown cited rumors that such intellectual icons as Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstein may have had Asperger’s, which fuel the positive image that has been cultivated in reference to the condition.

“Autism tends to be defined as a deficit, and people with Asperger’s see themselves as having an advantage in life,” said Eileen Parker, 46, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, who has Asperger’s. That is why the community is split over the DSM issue, she said. She personally agrees that Asperger’s belongs under autism for scientific reasons.

Read More …  http://us.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/02/11/aspergers.autism.dsm.v/index.html?hpt=C2



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