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Medicine Science

No More "Asperger's Syndrome" 602

cstacy writes "The American Psychiatric Association is dropping Asperger's Syndrome from the upcoming edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) Its symptoms will be included under the umbrella of Autism Spectrum Disorder, which includes everything from severe autism such as children who do not talk or interact, to milder forms of autism. Asperger's disorder is impairment in social interaction and repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, activities and interests, without significant delay in language or cognitive development. Often the person has high intelligence and vast knowledge on narrow subjects but lacks social skills. DSM-5 comes out in May and will be the first major rewrite in 19 years."
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No More "Asperger's Syndrome"

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  • by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Monday December 03, 2012 @12:18AM (#42165863)

    Because many of us have at least been accused of having it. Or are "self-diagnosed" as having it. Or were even diagnosed by an actual psychiatrist.

  • C'mon, idiots. (Score:5, Informative)

    by djh101010 ( 656795 ) on Monday December 03, 2012 @12:32AM (#42165963) Homepage Journal
    My entire team, who fix operational Unix problems for a fortune-5 company whose name rhymes with "EG", are Asberger's. If they weren't,they wouldn't have survived my job interview. I don't care what DSM-whateverthefark calls it, but, if you can't context switch many times a day and intensely follow the important shiny thing, then you are not cut out to be top-level support for a "fix the broken stuff" team. Maybe it's a talent rather than a disorder. /shrug. Discuss.
  • Re:About time (Score:5, Informative)

    by fafalone ( 633739 ) on Monday December 03, 2012 @12:41AM (#42166013)
    To qualify for the diagnosis, not only do the criteria have to be met, but it must cause clinically significant impairment in functioning. People always seem to overlook that part.
  • Re:About time (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 03, 2012 @12:55AM (#42166111)

    Well, not exactly, the DSM-5 at the same time removing the AS label relaxes the criteria of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Anyone who qualified for the criteria of Asperger's Syndrom qualifies for the DSM-5's criteria for proper autism. This is because there is little to no benefit at all in treating people with severe issues who have AS any differently from those with Autism. The only differentiator, really, between AS and classical Kanner's autism in the DSM-4 was a language delay, even if one had a language delay and coped better as an adult than someone who did not have one, that person would be diagnosed kanners and the one without the delay with aspergers. This caused as you can imagine a headache with regards to getting insurance or the state to cover any amount of therapy if you had the AS label even if you really needed it and your family wasn't in a position to reasonably afford it.

  • Re:Met them (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 03, 2012 @01:01AM (#42166151)

    but luckily, as a slashdot member, you're able to tell the difference between personal anecdotes and medical research, and wouldn't dream of trying to pass the former off as the latter. ... right?

  • Re:Damn... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 03, 2012 @01:41AM (#42166311)

    It's not a disease.

    You can label it however you like. It may or may not be a problem. How about "condition", which is a more neutral term?

    We all have a condition. The condition may be "normal". If you're in a room full of people trying to outdo each other with stories of their quirks, being normal is a handicap. If you're in a room full of "normals" talking about reality TV and you try to change the topic to rare coins (your obsession) then being on the autistic spectrum or having "aspergers" is handicap.

    It's not so much that you need to get rid of the condition as you may need to learn how to cope with it. Being left-handed isn't a "disease" either, but there are studies showing that people who are left-handed are more likely to have accidents. By identifying left-handedness as a condition and training lefties how to deal with it, we can help them. Ditto for "aspergers", "homosexuality" or any other condition that has been labeled as a disease over the years.

    Maybe they should just get rid of the term "disease" and label everything as a "condition". Either that, or psychiatrists and pscychologists could actually think, which I suspect at least some of the do.

    Sigh... it's like the Internet in real life: pointless semantic debates that don't really help anybody.

  • Re: Damn... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 03, 2012 @01:46AM (#42166327)

    Disease eh? Sounds like most engineers I've worked with.
    For the record, my 5 year old is extremely bright (a few years ahead of his peers). He behaves strangely. Needs to be cured? I don't think so... Taught how to socialize and learn not to space out so much? Yes... He's a typical aspergers from what I've been advised...

  • Re:Damn... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 03, 2012 @05:53AM (#42167211)

    But it's culturally-defined what is and isn't normal

    I'm just going to jump in here and yell "BULLSHIT!". Ever looked up the definition of normal? Aspergers is a significant deviation from how a person functions mentally on average. That's the definition of "not normal".

    On the whole "disease/not-disease" front I would point out that it is a disorder and not a disease. Also disease does not imply not-normal. It is quite normal to get the common cold in certain months of the year.

    There are situations where being a sociopath are an advantage. There are (controversial) theories that suggest that schizophrenics were treated as shaman in hunter-gatherer societies. And obviously, we can't forget the DSM's classification of homosexuality as a disease.

    What a nice load of pathos. All irrelevant to the topic.

  • by Farmer Tim ( 530755 ) <roundfile@[ ]dless.com ['min' in gap]> on Monday December 03, 2012 @08:34AM (#42167949) Journal

    So when does life start?

    That depends on how you define life. I define it as "a self-sustaining biological unit suitably equipped to survive in its nominal environment". Humans are not adapted to survive when immersed in amniotic fluid, and when they are immersed in it they aren't a self-sustaining biological unit. Your definition may be "any functioning cells", but that includes a leaf just fallen from a tree, a heart in an organ transport cooler, or the leg of a cat that's just been run over and otherwise reduced to pulp, and that's clearly way too broad.

    Life OBVIOUSLY starts at conception.

    Not obvious at all. At conception all you have is a single cell, and while there are single celled organisms, this cell isn't capable of surviving on it's own. It's just a free-drifting cell which will cease to function if it doesn't implant itself in the uterus wall within a matter of days, so at this stage it's biological but about as much "life" as a blood cell or a transplant organ.

    Once it implants itself it relies 100% on the host (or mother if you prefer) for nutrition, oxygen, etc. This is also true of a kidney. Again, both are biological, but neither are independently self-sustaining biological units. Still not life by my definition, but life by the cat's leg standard.

    After some months the internal organs develop to a point where it can survive outside the womb with varying degrees of artificial assistance. This could be considered life, but lacking the intervention it's not viable life, it will quickly die or suffer serious permanent damage in the event of a power outage, a faulty humidicrib, or even spontaneous organ failure due to stress.

    Full term baby: definitely life. It breathes without assistance, it maintains it's own body temperature (not perfectly, true), its skin is suited to exposure to air...IOW, it is fully adapted to function as a biological unit in its nominal environment.

    So unless you introduce unprovable religious concepts like a soul or use an effectively meaningless definition of life, it is by no means certain that life begins at conception.

    Can you get life without conception?

    Of course you can. Bacteria do just fine without it, and there are lots of higher species that can reproduce by parthenogenesis or other asexual means [dailymail.co.uk]. And if you're prepared to accept artificially supported life as life, I don't see why artificial cloning doesn't count.

    Oh that's right, life starts AFTER the baby leaves the womb and not before.

    Well, yes. Until that point it's only potential life, and sometimes confusing potential life with actual life can have dire consequences [guardian.co.uk]. HAND.

  • Re:Damn... (Score:5, Informative)

    by smillie ( 30605 ) on Monday December 03, 2012 @08:45AM (#42168017) Journal
    Labels can be an issue. I am dsylexic and have met other dsylexics. Being labeled dsylexic is almost like being labeled stupid. I was lucky that no one figured it out until late enough in my life that the label didn't bother me. A dsylexic thinks different than "normal" people. A lot of my thinking is 3D visualization. While in high school I was getting some training in patternmaking. The dsylexica made that job so easy I was doing stuff that my trainer couldn't understand. Once when I walked into the boss' office (the trainer) he was on the phone telling a customer that he couldn't make the part they wanted. The blue print was on the desk in front of me and a two second glance at it let me figure out why he thought it couldn't be made and that I could make it. So right at the end of him saying "it can't be made" I quietly said "I can make it." He was used to me by then and said into the phone "I just had an idea. Let me get back to you." After I explained how I can make it, he still didn't understand it. He asked me if I were sure I could make it. I said yes and we bid and got the job. I had no problem making the pattern. So I'm color blind, dsylexic and have the signs of an aspie. Those issues have caused me problems at times but they also helped me do things normal people can't do. The issue is that the label is often considered to be a negitive trait rather than just a different way of thinking. The aspie traits made me a good sysadmin and a good coder though it made dating very difficult. The dsylexia made me a good patternmaker but makes spelling and balancing a check book almost impossible. The color blindness makes it easy for me to see through camouflage which is useful in hunting or war but makes wiring a network cable very difficult. Beware the label.
  • Re:Damn... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Miamicanes ( 730264 ) on Monday December 03, 2012 @08:59AM (#42168139)

    >Diseases are not the only thing that can be cured. Ham, for instance.

    Sorry, but the Amiga's most famous graphics mode was congenitally-screwed the moment the company's management forced Jay Miner to go back and make it RGB-based instead of hue-saturation-luminosity based. In retrospect, though, it was mostly just ahead of its time. If I could go back in time 20 years, I'd NOW implement a HAM game by rendering to a phantom 16-bit playfield (using the top bit or few to flag 'dirty' bitmap areas that changed), then use something like the painter algorithm to re-render chunks of it that virtual bitmap to (sliced?)HAM in semi-realtime.

    It wouldn't have worked on anything less than an A3000 with at least 2 megs, and would have probably had a real update rate of around .25 to 2fps (not counting sprites), but DAMN, it would have had some killer screenshots in AmigaWorld and sold a few thousand copies before anybody realized the underlying game itself either sucked or was only cool due to the graphics (kind of like the UFO game that was basically a HAM background with sprites animated over it that that sold lots of copies despite sucking as a game, just because it was a game that used HAM).

  • by dogsbreath ( 730413 ) on Monday December 03, 2012 @09:22AM (#42168329)


    Only the name "Asperger's Syndrome" has been dropped. The collective set of symptoms and diagnostic criteria are in the DSM and there is no danger of the diagnosis disappearing. Just don't label it "Asperger's".

    Apparently in some parts of the world (eg US) health insurers don't provide support because the word "Autism" is not in the name. If the label doesn't say autism then I guess it ain't autism. Go figure.

    IMHO this is a particularly bad summary description.

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