Aspergers vs. Autism

Fri, Mar 12, 2010

Asperger's Syndrome

My son was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome in August of 2008. Since then I have been on a mission to learn all that I can about this challenge he has. I really hate using the term disability because, in my opinion, he is just different – not disabled. There has been a lot of discussion lately about whether to do away with the term Aspergers Syndrome and just use the Autism diagnosis instead. There are pros and cons to both but I am leaning towards no.

Aspergers is considered by many as high functioning Autism although they are really very different. While they both fall on the Pervasive Development Disorder (PDD) scale, they have some vast differences. Typically, Autistic people do not want to socialize while Asperger’s (Aspies) do want to be social but they just don’t have social skills. One of the other differences in the language delay, those with Autism are typically delayed in developing language skills while Aspies are not.

One of the biggest issues is the amount of aid you receive from schools and government. There is not nearly as much for Aspies as there are for those with Autism. My son’s school only recognizes the Autism diagnoses so he has all the benefits in special education that he needs. However the state I live in, AZ, separates the two diagnoses and there is not much assistance for him. Now since he has insurance it is not too big of a deal except in one area. Aspie kids really need social skills training. They can learn these skills. The problem is that there is not a lot of training or classes available for this. We have one here in Tucson that is offered by the University but it is $35 an hour and the classes are weekly and they do not take insurance. You commit to a semester at a time just like a school semester. This can be really rough for many parents. There is also a waiting list to get in anyway. I could go on but the bottom line is that there are many more options and assistance for parents of Autistic children than for parent of Asperger’s children.

So here is the question I pose. Do you think Aspies should be classified as Autistic, even though that really isn’t accurate, so that there would be more benefits and resources available to parents? I would love to hear what you think.

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9 Responses to “Aspergers vs. Autism”

  1. Gregory Pittman Says:

    Angela, I’m just now picking up your blog via a link on Twitter. I recently started blogging about life as an Asperger parent. My son is 9 years old and was diagnosed last fall. Of course, we went through all of the common diagnoses before that, including ADHD and OCD (both of which are still true).

    I’m really torn about the Asperger vs. autism diagnosis. If I had my preferences, schools would recognize Asperger’s Syndrome as a form of autism (as it officially is) and grant assistance accordingly. Why states and school systems separate the two, I’m not really sure. I’m very comfortable with an Asperger’s diagnosis; I just wish my son could get a bit more help.

    Having said that, I’m sure you’re aware that beginning in 2013, there will be no such thing as Asperger’s Diagnosis in the DSM-V. So, what do we do with all of the children who have an Asperger’s diagnosis? There are two sides to the answer. The *intent* of the changes is to see Asperger’s as a form of autism and assistance will be granted accordingly. However, I’m fairly confident that will not happen.

    If I were a gambling man, I would be willing to bet that institutions will dismiss Asperger’s kids from their assistance programs. They will looking at an Asperger’s kid and say, “You don’t have that,” while pointing to someone with more severe autism.

    No, my son doesn’t have severe autism. He has Asperger’s Syndrome, which technically no longer exists beginning in a couple of years. If we can’t convince school officials to reclassify him as autistic, beginning in 2013, he will no longer be eligible for any type of assistance.

  2. Angela Moore Says:

    Hello Gregory, I agree with you. Here in AZ, they lump AS with Autism in the school system. All of my son’s teachers are aware he is AS but his classification in Autism. However, the state is entirely different, they separate the two and because of that, my son is not entitled to any services from the state. He would have to have been diagnosed before he was 6 and he was 8 so we missed that boat. My son is similar to yours it sounds. My son has a high ADHD component (largely why he was misdiagnosed I’m sure) and few other interesting things going on but he is the most amazing kid I have ever met. I wouldn’t change him for the world. I know God put us together for a reason.

    There are so many parents here that want the separation to cease so they can get state assistance and that would be the only reason I would be on board with the new classification. Personally, we are fine with the AS diasgnosis and I believe they should be separate. My son is not autistic and I see no reason to classify him that way. Thanks for the comment. Blessings to you and your family.

  3. affordable insurance Says:

    Lots of great information and inspiration, both of which we all need, thank you for this.

  4. Maria Papaioannou Says:

    Hi! My name is Maria and I have worked with and have known many people with Autism and Aspergers Syndrome in my lifetime so far and so I know because I have seen by first hand how the two eventhough they are both in the Autism spectrum disorders have many differences. For example, Autism is when you have trouble talking and your speech is very limited which causes them to like to go into and be in their own little worlds because I feel they feel safe and happy there because they do not have to worry about being made fun of or physically abused because they are totally withdrawn from people then and that in turn causes people to turn and stay a way from them people some children or adults are cruel and find their behavior very strange making their behavior out of the norm and some people do not want to interact or be seen out in public with someone like this because they feel embarrassed. Also their inability to talk or their very limited speech makes them to have tantrums sometimes like a little kid would act like whn they do not like something that someone told them or a decision that someone made for them which they are sad about by crying or yelling or screaming or by hitting or punching or scratching or by pinching that person out of frustration as a result of them not being able to talk to tell that person what they are feeling inside or to not be able to talk or to talk in a way that they are able to be heard and understood which I have found that when they act this way a lot of times people call them behaviors but I think of them as just merely them communicating to someone what they want, need, or are feeling at the time in the only ways that they know how to communicate in and for those who think that way I find it a real pity because I feel that they should not even be called behaviors in the first place because they do not know that what they are doing at the tim e or has just done is wrong and not acceptable. While Aspergers Syndrome they do not have any trouble with talking or having a very limited vocabulary but they mainly have trouble with communicating with other people due to lack of social skills, missing social cues, not good with making and keeping friends finding it hard to speak to people It is because of all of these reasons and differences that I think and that I feel that they should have never changed to being the same but should be considered separate like they were before and the profefessionals like in schools should have to treat both disorders as equal in terms of both of them of the children needing special accomodations and should be entitgled to them.

  5. Angela Moore Says:

    Thank you for your comments. I really appreciate you taking the time to show the difference between AS and Autism. I completely agree with what you have said.

  6. Lee Says:

    ‘Typically, Autistic people do not want to socialize while Asperger’s (Aspies) do want to be social but they just don’t have social skills.’

    You’ve hit the nail on the head there Angela; I can’t understand how so many people cannot see what is so obvious.

    I’ve got Asperger’s syndrome myself and agree with you that most funding goes to people who are autistic; however re-classifying Asperger’s syndrome as ‘mild autism’ won’t help, because I’m sure that because our condition is considered to be mild we won’t be anyone’s priority when it comes to funding, although our outcomes are far more positive than those for people with autism…if only we get the support that we need.

  7. Angela Moore Says:

    Thanks Lee. That’s exactly what I faced when my son was diagnosed at 8 years old. In fact, here in AZ there is no “assistance” for Aspie’s unless youa er diagnosed by the time you are 6. Crazy.

  8. JS Says:

    As the DSM is currently written, my 7 year old son is considered autistic. The doctors who diagnosed and treat him now qualify it by saying he is “very very high functioning.” It would be very difficult for parents of a typically developing child to pick him out from among his peers at school. My son does wish to socialize and he does have friends! I don’t think the desire/lack of desire to socialize separates classic autism from Asperger’s syndrome. I’d say his primary deficit at this point, after more than 4 years of various therapies, is that he does have difficulty with some social situations and continues to be somewhat sensitive to loud or busy places. He seems very much like an Aspie now, although he did not start out that way. And that is the point of early intervention. Does it matter to me if the DSM considers him autistic or an Aspie? No, it doesn’t matter to me at all. What matters is that we were able to get help early to ensure that he can live up to his potential. Aspies and kids with PDD (even less useful from a diagnostic perspective IMHO) deserve the same chance to get treatment. The separation between high functioning autism and Asperger’s is very artificial and until we understand what the differences are and what they mean, I don’t think lumping them together should be a problem unless it results in fewer people getting treatment, which may happen to kids with HFA as well as Asperger’s once the new DSM comes out.

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