If you don’t think this is important, please just skip over it. This is just my opinion and what I know (obviously), but I think it’s something that may be worth thinking about.
This is something that has been nothing me for a long time, ever since I saw these letters in response to an article in The New York Times.
Partially in response to this news, I decided to write an essay for one of my classes at the time on the subject of keeping the diagnosis of Asperger’s and autism separate. I won’t post the whole thing, as it is rather dull to read, but I thought that part of the last paragraph might be worth posting:
"I feel that by shoving the Asperger diagnosis under the autism label is to do injustice to individuals who have been diagnosed as having Asperger’s. I was not diagnosed until a very late age…When I did receive my diagnosis, it was somewhat of a relief for me because it felt like a valid explanation for all of the difficulties and growing emotional pain that I had been experiencing as time went on. It was if someone was telling me, it’s okay: it’s okay to be the way you are, it’s okay to be different…to know that there were other people out there like me was an additional relief. If Asperger’s is indeed shoved under the autism label*, I would personally feel invalidated because that label is already so broad…It would feel like those with Asperger’s are not being recognized as individuals by the medical community…To push Asperger’s into autism would only hammer that feeling home even more."
(Sorry if it sounds pretentious to quote myself.)
*In early December of last year, the DSM-V made an official that this would indeed be the case for the fifth volume, due out in May this year.
So why does this matter? Well, I imagine for most people, it won’t make any difference at all. (Most people I encounter don’t know what Asperger’s is, or if they do, greatly misunderstand it.) Except, well, something like this actually should matter to people out there. The combination of these two diagnoses means that some people may not be able to get the help that they need.
I guess the real reason that I’m choosing to write this now is this: there has been so much speculation over the shootings in Connecticut, specifically focused on the shooter, Adam Lanza, and what may have been “wrong” with him. I’m not saying that there wasn’t, in all likelihood there was but please let me explain why I put “wrong” in quotes before you shout at me. Many articles have speculated over the possibility of Lanza having a diagnosis of Asperger’s, something that is not, in any way, “wrong”. So many of the articles have been incredibly offensive, seeming to pigeon hole people into these stupid little boxes of “wrongness”. First of all, you can’t do that. People are by nature, unpredictable and oh so very different, no matter how “normal” a box you may have been put in. That’s what makes person an individual. Second of all, when something does go actually wrong, as in the case of the Connecticut shootings, it makes it so much easier to blame the situation on the box as opposed to the actual person. As in, oh he had Asperger’s, that’s what’s wrong with him, that’s why he shot all those people. Um, no. As I said, people are individuals and they will do what they do. People who have Asperger’s Syndrome are not “Asperger’s”, they are in fact, people as well.
I don’t really know if I made a point, or if I even had one. Hopefully it didn’t bore anyone too much.