Does Asperger Syndrome Still Exist

Since the publication of the updated Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM 5) published by the American Psychiatric Association, a number of people in the autism community have been incorrectly asserting that the removal of Asperger Syndrome from the DSM 5 means that Asperger Syndrome is no longer a diagnosis. Unfortunately, most of these people who believe this don’t understand that removal of a diagnosis from the DSM means that the medical and scientific community no longer see the diagnosis as a mental disorder.

To better explain this fact, let’s take a look at homosexuality which was listed in the first edition of the DSM in 1952. Homosexuality was listed as a sociopath personality disturbance. When the DSM II was published in 1968, homosexuality was re-categorized as a sexual deviancy.

In 1973, with the seventh printing of the DSM II, the category of homosexuality was removed from the DSM-II classification of mental disorders and a new category was created: Sexual Orientation Disturbance. And by 1986, the diagnosis of homosexuality as a mental disorder was completely removed from the DSM with the exception of homosexuality with other mental implications.

By the time the DSM-IV-TR rolled around, even that description for an aspect of homosexuality was dismissed as a mental disorder, understanding that societal pressures were often responsible for the symptomology that had been addressed in previous editions of the DSM.

It must be noted that the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) continues to list Asperger Syndrome as a disease. Likewise, the Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual (PDM) continues to list Asperger Syndrome as a diagnosis. And the Chinese Classification of Mental Disorders (CCMD-3) also continues to list Asperger Syndrome as a diagnosis.

In other words, the only diagnostic manual that has removed the diagnosis from their pages is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM 5).

And just like homosexuality did not cease to exist once it was removed from the DSM, Asperger Syndrome as a diagnosis has not ceased to exist since its removal from the DSM.

This is what people need to remember when they hear alarmists in the autism community declare that Asperger Syndrome no longer exists as a diagnosis. It exists. It’s just not listed as a mental disorder in the DSM 5.

Elyse Bruce
Creator and Founder of the
MIDNIGHT IN CHICAGO initiative

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