Autism and Asperger's are the same thing

Anonymous said to :

I do have a question about autism… Which may be ironic, being “high-functioning” myself. But I was recently criticized for something I said about Asperger’s Syndrome in relation to ASD. I was basically told that “Asperger’s is Asperger’s and autism is autism,” and that there isn’t such a thing as ASD. I’m always trying to research this topic, but…

It’s difficult for me to know what to look for and to understand what I find. I guess I was just looking for some confirmation…

realsocialskills said:

Asperger’s and autism are literally the same thing. They don’t exist as separate diagnostic categories anymore.

In the DSM IV, there were three subcategories of autism spectrum disorders, Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. In the DSM V, the current diagnostic manual, they’re all combined into one diagnostic category, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

The primary difference between diagnostic criteria for Asperger’s syndrome and Autistic Disorder used to be whether or not someone had an apparent language delay prior to the age of three. That was found not to be a meaningful diagnostic difference. It’s not predictive for any autistic attribute in the long term, including speech, language use or self-care abilities.

There are major differences in severity of various autistic attributes among different autistic people. There are also differences in what people’s support needs are, even if on paper it looks like their collection of abilities and impairments are similar. None of these differences between autistic people fall into neat categories of Aspergers and Autism, or high functioning and low functioning.

tl;dr Autism is complicated and people are complicated. Autistic people don’t fall neatly into categories of “autistic” and “Aspergers”, which is why those diagnostic categories were flattened into one diagnosis in the DSM V.