Autism, Asperger’s and “classic” autism have been merged into ASD quite a few years back. However, people are still exposed to outdated information. The internet makes it easier for it to find. This is worrying. Some people like the Asperger’s label as it describes them well, while others feel that one of these specific labels has to fit everyone.
This isn’t the case.
I’ll briefly explain the the 3 (formerly 4 as Rett’s syndrome is no longer associated with autism) labels that have been used before and both the advantages and disadvantages of them.
- So, what exactly is Autism? Autism (or recently named the Autistic Spectrum Disorder) is a neurological condition that has affected the mind of one person, in which is often seen as a disability. As it is a spectrum, there are various “types”. Each person’s behaviour can change day to day but to make things easier, we will use these generalised labels for examples.
- “High-functioning” (also described as Asperger’s Syndrome) are autistic people that can function day to day lives but may need additional assistance in order to function day to day activities. Their socialising skills may differ compared to neurotypical’s and some can lead independent lives.
- “Pervasive Developmental Disorder” is also used to diagnose autistic’s who have milder symptoms compared to “classic autism” or “Aspergers Syndrome”. It seems to be used for those who have developmental delay. I don’t see this label often and information varies depending on the source.
- “Low functioning” or “Classic Autism” are those who need more care. They are less likely to function independently and struggle with instructions. Their mentality is usually perceived as much younger than their age as they grow. Some cases of autism are non-verbal, in that they are unable (or choose not to) use verbal communication. Various people in the spectrum can be both so using these terms isn’t as ideal for everyone.
The problem with these categories is that people only associate with one category. There doesn’t seem to be any overlap. A spectrum can have both traits of PDD and Asperger’s, or even autism and Asperger’s. An autistic brain can be different day to day.
What about autistic’s that are non-verbal? where do they belong? Some non verbals may need a lot of care, while others lead independent lives. Adding them automatically into “classic” autism can be problematic.
Medical categories are a guide, not a one size fits all. As autism is a spectrum, everyone is different. Autism isn’t the same experience for everyone. Not everyone is severe and needs constant care. Not everyone can live on their own and hold a job. Some of us are in between, or a bit of both depending on the day. The brain is a complicated tool.
I hope this is useful, as I’m tired of seeing outdated information online. People still don’t understand Autism.