Asperger United was renamed The Spectrum by the NAS as a result of the findings about the life and work of Hans Asperger by Herwig Czech earlier in 2018.
Is this an indication that the NAS is (quietly?) phasing out Asperger from their website and publications?
The services that the NAS has provided for people with AS have been the point of much contention over the years. This has included criticism that the NAS focuses the majority of its efforts onto people at the more severe end of the autism spectrum or those who require residential care services whereas people with AS only get the crumbs. Therefore the NAS could take advantage of the findings of Herwig Czech as a backdoor way to abandon supporting people with AS and effectively turn the clock back to the 1980s when people with (then undiagnosed) AS would almost always fail to meet the criteria for autism.
Some people argue that AS should be phased out anyway because it is no longer included in DSM-5 but DSM-5 is American and it has been rather cynically referred to as a catalogue of billing codes for insurance companies rather than a list of medical conditions.
In the previous edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), the main diagnostic criteria of Asperger’s Disorder included a “qualitative impairment in social interaction and restricted, repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities.” These deficiencies and patterns caused “clinically significant impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning.”
In the new DSM-V, the diagnosis of Asperger’s Disorder no longer exists and has been absorbed into the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). There is also a new diagnosis called Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder (SCD), which falls under the category of Communication Disorders and may serve as an alternative diagnosis for someone with Asperger’s-like symptoms.
it is not NAS, but the new diagnostic criteria
it is worth noting...
Despite the media hype, the revised classifications in DSM-5 will have limited impact on individuals who receive mental health care in the UK, at least in the short-term.
Psychiatrists in the UK tend to use the World Health Organisation’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD) system to diagnose mental health conditions, rather than DSM, which is used in the US.
Also, the term ‘autistic spectrum disorder’ (and the concepts underpinning it) have been widely used in the UK for many years. However, in the long-term, it is difficult to predict the potential impact the DSM-5 will have on the future diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions.
I think that most people who would previously have got an AS diagnosis now get autism spectrum disorder level 1 if DSM 5/ ICD 11 is being used rather than not getting diagnosed? I was only diagnosed very recently and thats what i got, but was also told that in the past it would have been classed as AS, so i think it may basically be more of a name change rather than not supporting people with AS/ ASD 1?
At my assessment I was told that Aspergers isn't diagnosed anymore. Just ASC. I have also heard similar where I work about children being diagnosed. I don't really see a problem with it being called ASC collectively. As long as there is support available. There are many debates with the names for these things such as the high and the low functioning and other conditions that now fall under the ASC umbrella like PDA. I think the difficulty with these things is that it is not as simple as being autistic or aspergers or nt. It is a huge spectrum. My assessor thought I fit into an aspergers profile until he asked about language and realised I had had a language delay. That isn't to say aspergers doesn't exist as a condition of its own. But it is not a black and white thing to diagnose. I don't think anyone is for a second suggesting that people with Aspergers shouldn't be supported.
The Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome by Tony Attwood has an Amazon bestsellers rank of 11,775.
Asperger's Children by Edith Sheffer has an Amazon bestsellers rank of 78,846.
The figures could be somewhat deceptive because Tony Attwood's book has been around for 10 years whereas Edith Sheffer's book hasn't been out for one year yet.
There is a question whether the NAS is going to produce AS specific materials and services in the future or whether they are going to submerge merge it into the confusing 'haze' that is autism.
An entire 'industry' has grown up around AS including books, videos, services, websites, experts on the subject, and support groups since the mid 1990s. Will these continue in the future or will they gradually die off? For example, will it be (realistically) possible to publish new books about AS or will they have to cover the entire spectrum of autism? What about support groups because the needs and requirements of people with AS are very different from people with traditional Kanner type autism? Could it even reach a situation in 10 years time where 99% of new products and services about ASD focus on traditional Kanner autism and do not cover AS? Would it be possible to have a career in psychology as an expert on AS or would one also have to also be an expert on all other variants of ASD?
The reality is that AS comprises a very minor part of what the actually NAS does. I see some parallels between the regional ITV companies of old and how they produced more religious programmes than the BBC did but religious programmes was a minor activity in comparison to popular entertainment and they produced them mostly because of PSB contractual agreements. The lack of passion also resulted in religious programmes that were overwhelmingly dull and of mediocre quality. I can see the NAS wanting to phase out AS because it doesn't make much profit for them in a similar way that ITV companies wanted to phase out religious programmes because it didn't make much profit for them. The findings by Herwig Czech covered by the flimsy facade of DSM-5 provides a potential 'excuse' to do so.
Time will tell but I expect the NAS to give vague and ambiguous replies if probed about the matter.
Just to mention that the London Review of Books has reviewed Edith Sheffer's Asperger's Children.
Asperger’s Children: I've not read the book, but it makes one question 'autism' as a word as well as 'Asperger Syndrome'. One objection I've heard to 'autism' is that the etymology implies 'selfish'. I'm wondering if 'monotropism' may be a better term, although at the moment it's only a theory of autism.
Is Hans Asperger a Nazi?
Is Tony Attwood's book now obsolete?
You need to read Steve Silberman's Neurotribes book for a lot of background on the history of Autism, Aspergers and other similar mental health conditions
As far as we are concerned UK diagnosis goes on whatever NICE guidelines stipulate, that's how I read things, its not that AS doesn't exist its just that its more under the umbrella of ASD as a spectrum.
The DSM-5 states, “Individuals with a well-established DSM-IV diagnoses of autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder or pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified should be given the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.”So, according to this, the changes from AS to ASD should not have an effect on getting support.