Monday, February 15, 2010

Is it Autism or Asperger’s, Part 2?

There’s a great deal of discussion about the proposed changes to the upcoming DSM-V and their characterization of autism and Asperger’s. There's a good chance that Asperger's will be rolled into the general category of Autism Spectrum Disorders. I think for many readers of this post, as well as adult clients I work with, formal diagnosis has never taken place, so the differentiation between the two disorders  is really a moot point, aside from how individuals define their own issues.

Lisa Jo Rudy, on About.com has written a number of articles commenting on how this proposed change is more vague than the existing criteria and merges a very broad spectrum of symptoms and behaviors into one even less specific category. I agree with her points about the range of skills and abilities throughout the spectrum, but I think the reality is that we just don’t have enough understanding of the spectrum variations to warrant a precise and meaningful differentiation between what in reality is probably many different forms of an overall autism diagnosis.

For an excellent discussion of the details of this issue, check out the latest Child-Psych blog, where Nestor L. Lopez-Duran, PhD discusses a range of practical and theoretical issues related to this topic. Of particular interest was his discussion of the Yale University Child Study Center criteria differentiating autism from Asperger’s, including differences in speech as well as differing desires for social interaction..