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DSM-5 and Asperger's Syndrome

posted Dec 26, 2013, 1:56 AM by Ezra Lockhart   [ updated Jun 19, 2014, 12:32 PM ]
Recently there has been much controversy within the communities touched by and who deal with Autism and Asperger's Syndrome. The American Psychiatric Association updated their diagnostic and statistical manual to a revision that consolidates various pervasive developmental disabilities into a single diagnosis: Autism Spectrum Disorders. Two big questions these communities are facing are 1) whether this latest revision will eliminate their current clinical diagnosis and 2) whether the elimination of specific diagnoses (e.g., Asperger's Syndrome) from the present psychological lexicon 
will also eliminate components of personal and cultural identity from individuals and communities who identify as Aspie or Aspergergian.

The first question is easier to address than the second. Those who have been diagnosed with any of the previous diagnoses will continue to have the notation in their medical/psychological records. They will not lose their diagnosis. Developmental disabilities are chronic disabilities; therefore, it is generally understood that these symptoms are lifelong. Those individuals who have an Asperger's Syndrome diagnosis will rarely be called upon to be re-diagnosed (this is different than obtaining a physician or psychologist re-certification).

The second question of personal and cultural identity speaks more to social constructs. It is obvious that the Aspie/Aspergergian community will be challenged by this change. Although, what is ultimately made out of it will be reliant upon the fortitude and perseverance of its membership.

The APA Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (Division 33) released a statement regarding the recent changes to the previous PDD category.