Often while I am online I come across ignorance regarding autism.
As someone who is diagnosed with the autistic disorder, often also referred to as classic autism, I am simply not the same as someone with Asperger’s.
Seems simple, right? – Well, apparently, it is not.
When people think of autism, they generally think one of two ways, which is either extremely restricted, meaning that they see all forms of the Autism Spectrum Disorders as 1, or Asperger’s as a high-function form of Autism.
The reality is that it doesn’t work in either one of those ways, hence also the move in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders(DSM) towards the classification of “Autism Spectrum Disorders”, with the very reflective term “Spectrum” to identify that we are talking about a spectrum of disorders….
Still, that doesn’t take away that the ones diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and the autistic disorder have generally 1 clear difference, which is the specific points they have problems with, and which they don’t have problems with.
To name the most obvious one is the fact that those with Asperger’s syndrome are far more outgoing, hence they could go by unnoticed as having Asperger’s online, as they are not shy to talk with anyone. Something that shouldn’t even need explaining of me how different it is when it comes to the autistic disorder, as just ask yourself, how often have you seen me reaching out to others on my Twitter profile? It’s actually why retweets on Twitter, but also the likes on Instagram and Facebook, are such a love of me, as it still allows me to interact with others, but without the confronting situation of getting stuck in a social situation that is hard for me.
Still, the differences between the 2 disorders don’t go by unnoticed to the majority without a reason.
Among those reasons is the made-up diagnosis of high-functioning autism, a term that overlaps with the autistic disorder, but made to clarify 1 difference, the difference in IQ.
Simply put, there are those with the autistic disorder who have very low values in terms of IQ, while there are also those with quite high values of IQ, and somehow people thought it was needed to discriminate between those with high and low values of IQ. Apart of just the discriminating part, it is also actually quite nonsensical, which can be blamed on a part of ignorance about Asperger’s syndrome. As it’s often believed that those with Asperger’s syndrome always have high IQ values, even though the reality is the exact opposite, as like those with autistic disorder, there are also those with Asperger’s syndrome who have IQ values that are among the lowest values proclaimed to be possible…
Regardless though, when we look at the term of high-functioning autism, we do get finally the clarity that is needed what the differences actually are between those with autistic disorder and Asperger’s syndrome.
As to quote, someone with autistic disorder has
lower verbal reasoning skills, better ability when it comes to visual thinking, less problems with their motor skills(less deviating locomotion), and more problems doing things alone, but also is more broad-minded than someone with Asperger’s syndrome.
Some also say that those with Asperger’s syndrome have more ability to empathize than those with autistic disorder, but this is regarded as not true among the majority of experts regarding both the autistic disorder and Asperger’s syndrome.
Another part that is clear is that Asperger’s syndrome affects 4 times as many females as autistic disorder.
But, with that being said, is it as simple as just that?
Well, the answer is: No.
As while I have focused on just 2 of the autism spectrum disorders, we actually face another problem when it comes to the 2 other forms.
Which are childhood disintegrative disorder(CDD) and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified(PDD-NOS).
Just a moment, as I know some will say that Rett syndrome is also a form of the autism spectrum disorders, however, it is not. The difference is there at many parts of Rett syndrome, like the Autistic features not being there for everyone with Rett syndrome, the differences in cause, and the fact that quite some people grow out of their Autistic features when they have Rett syndrome.
When it comes to CDD and PDD-NOS, we only truly need the latter one, which has to do with a very specific reason, noticeable by the last part of the term: “not otherwise specified”…
(Pervasive developmental disorder and autism spectrum disorder is a synonym as of DSM-V.)
Here is actually where we find the cause of another ignorant belief, the thought that vaccination could cause a form of autism.
As the last part of PDD-NOS refers to it not being specified by any of the other 3 autism spectrum disorders, because of it having clear symptoms but too few to be a clear diagnosis, it having symptoms that don’t comply with the diagnosis, or/and… here we have the reason of the belief… it (possibly) developing on a later age.
And it doesn’t actually stop there, as there is another problem with the PDD-NOS diagnosis, or possibly rather those active at psychology and psychiatry, which is that generally the diagnosis of PDD-NOS will be changed to either Asperger’s or the autistic disorder on a later age, regardless of the 3 reasons why it previously wasn’t diagnosed as either one of those.
It creates a lot of confusion, and not only to the outside world, but also the people who were diagnosed with PDD-NOS themselves, like myself.
As does someone who was re-diagnosed from PDD-NOS towards the autistic disorder or Asperger’s syndrome truly have either one of those? – Well, your guess is as good as mine.
Which is actually why I wrote all of this, the fact that the whole diagnosis of the autism spectrum disorders is based on primarily guesswork.
Just think back a moment about the differences between the diagnoses of Asperger’s syndrome and the autistic disorder, and dare to ask yourself the following:
“How do we even know how another person thinks?”
I ask you this as there are only 2 differences that could be stated as factual, which are the motor skills and the problems when it comes to doing things alone, as those things are noticeable by the eye.
But the rest of the differences all have to do with interpretation. Eventually, what we could suppose shows a better ability of visual thinking, could just as well be moments of luck…
As the majority of the diagnoses of the autism spectrum disorders are made after observing a child or an adult during a brief moment of time, often less than 1 week, if it is even more than a few hours…
Which brings us to an explanation which I skipped, the reasoning why the 4 forms of the autism spectrum disorders, CDD, PDD-NOS, Asperger’s and the autistic disorder are no longer differentiated of each other, as it were just guesses, not facts.
But also brings us back to what I said at the start of this post, the ignorance regarding autism, as the main problem between the Autism Spectrum Disorders is simple;
We are not talking about 1 type of person, nor 2, nor 3, nor 10, nor 100, nor 1000, nor 10.000, but actually about millions of possible types of people.
As in basics, when we talk about autism, we don’t need any of what I explained before, but 1 simple understanding:
Someone with a form of Autism has problems with social interaction and communication.
… Yes, that is all actually what Autism officially is.
Which would be far more easy for people to understand than any lengthy explanation.
And yet, we always end up with huge needs to explain ourselves.
Ignorance and a continuous need to explain ourselves, while having problems regarding social interaction and communcation… Wonderful(!)
Maybe it would be better if people would just stop wanting to understand Autism, but instead just chose to accept.
As when I am honest, when people would truly listen to me, that is all I would want…