Category Archives: Asperger’s diagnosis

Asperger’s/Autism Diagnosis: How Does It Feel?

 My daughter phoned.  Her oldest son had been diagnosed ADD, ADHD, had been on Ritalin, and barely eight years old, had been the subject of repeated bullying and school yard ostracism.  “It’s Asperger’s Syndrome, Mom, and you and I have all the symptoms!”

That was seventeen years ago, but I vividly recall the conversation.

As we discussed the list of traits of people with Asperger’s, relief flooded through me.  At last I knew what it was that was “wrong” with me!

Anger came later, as I processed the information and with it, an understanding of my nature and how the very people who were close to me had taken advantage over the years.

And then grief.  Oh yes, I grieved the loss of the possibility of ever being ‘normal’.  I grieved for the child I had been, for the loneliness and isolation of all those years of trying to join our societal mainstream and just not getting it.

And I felt rage, too.  A deep anger at being shoved aside, at being made an onlooker, a non-participant, when I so poignantly wanted to belong.

And pride.  Pride in my ability to accept, even as a teenager, that the best I could be was ME, with all my faults and failings, my oddities, my strengths and weaknesses.  Yes, Asperger’s made me an easier target for my abuser, but the different way of thinking helped me to end that abuse as well.

And so I felt joy.  The joy and satisfaction of finally belonging somewhere.  Of finally finding that there were others, many others, like me.  Of understanding the close bond between my daughter and I.  Of finally feeling that I was, in my own newly recognized niche, a part of a larger entity.  I was not alone in my weirdness. in my unusual way of perceiving situations, patterns and people.

As an Aspie, I was fine, just as I was.

I still struggle some days.  As one of my friends says, “Margaret will always default to the Aspie truth.”  It’s his way of recognizing our straight forward approach to life.

He also says, “I know your intentions are always good.  That’s a no-brainer.”  So no matter how wrong something turns out, he understands that it was not my intention to create havoc.  This is the most reassuring response to my Asperger’s that I have ever had, and I bask in the glow of it.

Acceptance.  That’s what we all need.  To not only be accepted, but to be celebrated for who we are.

As I note in my book,  Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger Teen,  it is easy to forget the most important thing:  You are perfect, just as you are.

The celebration starts in you.

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ASD, Aspergers and PDD: Diagnostic Changes with DSM-5

With the publication of the DSM-5, parents of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) children may be wondering whether or not to submit their child to another diagnostic evaluation in the hope of qualifying for a more extensive range of resources under the new criteria.  Caution is recommended.

Generally speaking, evaluation for available services has been conducted in accordance with the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), although some agencies and districts may use a different criteria.

According to the DSM-4, diagnosing ASD included 3 designations: PDD or pervasive development disorder, high-functioning autism, and Asperger’s.  Asperger’s was generally used for fewer than six symptoms of autistic behaviour, high-functioning autism for six or more and PDD for any number of symptomatic behaviours that did not fit either pattern.

Then, in 2012 a study conducted by Dr. Catherine Lord indicated that while these three diagnoses varied widely, the symptoms among the children so diagnosed did not greatly vary.

What did vary to a great extent, however, were the services available based on the diagnosis.  For instance, a child diagnosed with high functioning autism would, in many regions, be entitled to a far greater range of services and resources than a child determined to have Asperger’s.

It was in an attempt to correct this situation that the DSM-5 abandoned Asperger’s as a designation and instead, diagnosed for high functioning autism as an umbrella category.

However, under the criteria of the DSM-5 a child must have at least two repetitive behaviours in order to qualify for a high functioning ASD diagnosis.  Repetive behaviours are not always present, and some professionals are finding that children are being eliminated from the spectrum on re-diagnosis.

It is important to note that the DSM-5 specifically states that individuals with a well-established DSM-4 diagnosis of autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder or PDD not otherwise specified should be given the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. (p.51).  

Thus, it is possible that a child already established as having Asperger’s could still be slotted into the autism spectrum disorder even without repetitive behaviours as long as he is merely carried forward in the system and not re-evaluated.

These are important considerations to keep in mind if you are thinking of having your child re-diagnosed under the new DSM-5.

(This article is based on information from A Parent’s Guide to High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder; Ozonoff, Dawson, McPartland.  Please check with your physician or specialist regarding current DSM standards and issues it presents in terms of evaluation).

Hope you find this helpful!

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

 

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