CHICAGO – The now familiar term “Asperger’s disorder” is being dropped. And abnormally bad and frequent temper tantrums will be given a scientific-sounding diagnosis called DMDD. But “dyslexia” and other learning disorders remain. The revisions come in the first major rewrite in nearly 20 years of the diagnostic guide used by the nation’s psychiatrists. Changes were approved Saturday. Full details of all the revisions will come next May when the American Psychiatric Association’s new diagnostic manual is published.
The change is possibly NOT as tragic as many might think. I have never thought that Asperger’s Syndrome should be considered ‘Autism.’ Classic autism characteristics are virtually the opposite with a few common struggles – primarily to do with social development. My 13 year old son with Asperger’s Syndrome is learning and he will always be learning to understand others who refuse to try and understand him.
The biggest problem is that the vast majority of today’s society can’t give anyone or anything more than a few seconds of their time. People with Asperger’s Syndrome operate on a different time clock. People like Albert Einstein and Charles Schulz for example. Both of these amazing men changed the world for the better. Both of these amazing men has Asperger’s Syndrome.
Will a label – or lack of a label – change who the person is? Perhaps. When a person who struggles to function in a world that doesn’t support his needs is forced to do so unaided it reminds me of the scenario where a duck and a turtle must compete by racing to the top of the tree.
While the benefits for those diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome will most likely take a nose-dive, the numbers of those who will display characteristics will, most likely, continue to rise. Insurance companies, schools and medical providers will be scrambling for some time to adjust to the change.
I wonder if there is any possibility that those scrambling will begin to understand what it’s like for the people dependent on them to make the right decisions.
The message of Asperger’s Syndrome could not be better portrayed (in my opinion) than by my 10-year-old son Oliver, who wrote his first book: Asperger’s Rhymes with Bass Burgers.
I also welcome those with autism or those who are making a difference for others with autism to connect with me for inclusion in this column because we ALL need to think Beyond the Spectrum.
Proud to be the mom of two incredibly awesome boys! One just happens to have Asperger’s Syndrome. Both teach me how to be grateful for life every day.
Rhonda Spellman is an award winning author, professional speaker, autism advocate and coach. A published author at 17, she has since worked in many areas of the writing / publishing / media field. When a form of autism took her son’s voice in 2001 and threatened to take his ability to live a normal life, she began to search for better answers. Rhonda self-published her first children’s book – an EVVY award winner, in 2003, a short two months before her first son was diagnosed with autism. Her second book, based on small emperor penguin who gives children a message, “You don’t have to BE big to DO big things” was picked up by a major publisher in 2008. Rhonda’s third book, “The Journey Home from Autism“, is based on over 7,000 logged hours of research was released on January 1, 2010. It has won a 1st place INDIE Excellence award and an EVVY award. In January, 2013, she published her 10-year-old son’s first book, “Asperger’s Rhymes with Bass Burgers“. Her programs for children and adults, her website and her column “Beyond the Spectrum” are designed to educate and enrich life ~ in all of our many shapes, colors and forms. Her online sites include: AutismWithRhonda.com, Linkedin.com/in/RhondaSpellman, Facebook.com/RhondaSpellman, http://www.youtube.com/artospress, She can be reached at Rhonda@RhondaSpellman.com