Autistic Disorder to Aspergers Syndrome?

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MindBlind
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12 Sep 2010, 7:44 am

Just curious - I am aware that technically, AS should not be diagnosed in a person who had the symptoms of autistic disorder to begin with because of the current criteria. I know that the criteria is changing to include all autistic spectrum disorders into a single diagnostic category and i am aware that having speech delays as a child does not mean that you are more severely affected by autism than those who did not have speech delays.

However, I am curious about those who are cureently DX'd with Aspergers when they were previously diagnosed with autistic disorder. I would also like to know (specifically) of those people who were first dianosed with autistic disorder but grew up to be very high functioning. Keep in mind that when I refer to functioning levels, I am not referring to intelligence. I am referring to the ability to take care of oneself and the ability to hold down a job and to feed oneself, etc. Most people recognise that I am slightly eccentric, but none of them would think that I had any neurological problems.

I am reminded of this quote by Hans Asperger "We are convinced, then, that autistic people have their place in the organism of the social community. They fulfil their role well, perhaps better than anyone else could, and we are talking of people who as children had the greatest difficulties and caused untold worries to their care-givers".

This is me in a nutshell. My deficits were far more obvious when i was younger and even when I was old enough I didn't travel independently to school until my last year. Only a few years ago, really, was I completely oblivious to the social demands of the world. I am still affected by my executive dysfunction, but I now have employment (okay, it's not a paying job, but it's a job nonetheless). Not to mention that I often work with the general public.Maybe I've just found a good enough niche to get by. Maybe when I start living independently and when my routine changes, my disability will affect me more. I don't know...

TL;DR

Do you have a current DX of Aspergers and were you previously diagnosed with Autistic Disorder? Do you feel like this is an accurate diagnosis or do you feel that it should be changed? Please discuss.



tenzinsmom
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12 Sep 2010, 1:09 pm

I'm bumping this because I am extremely interested in any responses.


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Callista
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12 Sep 2010, 1:35 pm

Being diagnosed with autistic disorder and then growing up to be independent or nearly independent is not uncommon. The idea that autistic people don't learn is a fallacy. I'm diagnosed "Asperger's" or "PDD-NOS" depending on the doctor you ask, and would have been diagnosable as "Autistic Disorder" as a child if my mom had let me get evaluated. I'm semi-independent, doing all my own ADLs and going to school, but unable to support myself yet. I know a couple of people diagnosed Autistic Disorder as kids who are more independent than I am, who can support themselves. So it's pretty common; among those who have learned speech and self care, it is probably about as common as independence among adults with Asperger's. (Most classic autistics, on the order of 70-90%, learn speech and self-care by the time they are teens. That doesn't mean independence is always possible, but it's a far cry from the stereotype we've been taught to expect.)

In other words: Even for autistic people who are specified to start out delayed in speech and self-care, catching up by adulthood is common, and for those who don't catch up, progress is near-universal. (Regressive autism does exist, though it is extremely rare, and most exceptions fall into this category; but then again, losing skills often happens in isolated areas, while other areas continue to progress...)

There's a complicating factor here, though, and that's the problem of which way you're diagnosed in the first place. As I've mentioned multiple times, most people diagnosed Asperger's could also be diagnosed, or have been diagnosed as children, with Autistic Disorder. This is partly because the two conditions are near-identical, and partly because doctors are simply misdiagnosing many cases of Autistic Disorder when the person doesn't fit the stereotype of Autistic Disorder. Rather than diagnosing Autistic Disorder, as they should, some doctors will say "Asperger's" because the client "seems high-functioning", even though he fits Autistic Disorder criteria. (I am one of them; could have been diagnosed as Autistic Disorder as a child, but have lost the highly unusual/non-communicative speech, as many do.)

In light of the diagnostic confusion, researching adult outcomes for the entire spectrum seems to make more sense than researching them for a single category. If you wanted to compare them, you'd have to compare them by childhood skills, not specific diagnosis. We know the diagnostic labels don't do much to categorize cases anyway.


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Asp-Z
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12 Sep 2010, 1:35 pm

I've always been diagnosed with AS, but I know that AS does not specify any late speech development whereas HFA does, and I did start talking late, so I'm not sure which is technically correct.

However, since that's such a minor detail, I don't see how it matters.

I've said it plenty of times before: they are identical disorders, and will officially be so in a few years too.