⇒ Our e-friend Barb Kirby gives a common sense definition. The DSM-IV (Diagnostic & Statistical Manual #4) provides the old “official” definition or diagnostic criteria. Other diagnostic criteria are provided by the World Health Organization, Gilberg & Gilberg, and Szatmari et al. One of our favorite clinicians, Tony Attwood, also has an good explanation.
⇒ We see such diagnostic criteria as working hypotheses or descriptions which can us help to communicate with care-givers and insurance companies, to clarify discussion, and to guide treatment. The definitions change as new research occurs (or the DSM’s committees come to new decisions), so we are not wedded to any of them. The fact that the newest DSM dropped Asperger Syndrome from its list does not perturb us at all.
⇒ It is very important to remember that no individual fits the AS diagnosis exactly. The diagnosis does not define the person.
⇒ For a wealth of information on Asperger Syndrome, see reader-friendly books by Tony Attwood and by Brenda Smith Myles & Richard L. Simpson. There are many books about AS and you can find them by searching on the web. JKP publishes a new one almost every month.
⇒ For group discussion, we believe (to quote Tony Attwood) that the difference between Asperger Syndrome and high-functioning autism (HFA) is that they’re spelled differently. Outside of academic research seminars, most discussions concerning the differences between them are a waste of time. Click here to see an old comparison from the Autism Society’s home page.
⇒ AS and HFA are neighboring parts of the same spectrum, like indigo and violet. They also seem similar to “Pervasive Development Disorder-NOS” and “Non-Verbal Learning Disorder” (and the others listed on the “about us” page). It should be remembered that people with AS (or any similar conditions) often have other symptoms, such as attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.It’s sometimes difficult to separate these conditions and the issues they imply.