By Joshua Muggleton
Last week, I bought a T-shirt printed with “I had Asperger’s syndrome before it was cool”. For me, and many like me, the diagnosis is much more than a label. It can be a source of pride; a badge of honour for surviving in a world that, for us, seems chaotic, overwhelming and downright scary. It can also be a part of our identity. When I meet a fellow Aspie, I feel a sense of fraternity with them. This person, unlike the other 99% of people, sees the world in the same way as me. We face the same challenges, we think the same way, and we often have to campaign together on issues affecting us. I’m proud to call myself an Aspie.
Over the last few years, I’ve seen the term Asperger’s syndrome used and understood better by the public. When I tell someone about my diagnosis, they (usually) have an idea of what it is. This is thanks to high-profile news stories, such as Gary McKinnon‘s, an increasing number of documentaries featuring people with both autism and Asperger’s syndrome, and the awareness raising of charities like the National Autistic Society.
It’s because of this that when I first learned over two years ago of theproposal to remove the term “Asperger’s syndrome” and “autism” from the psychiatrists’ Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders and replace them with “autism spectrum disorder”, I was set against it. People with Asperger’s syndrome find change very difficult, and this was a big and unwanted change to my identity. However, as well as being an Aspie, I am also a psychologist. As such, I felt I needed to set my personal views aside, and investigate how we classify Asperger’s syndrome.
For the complete article, first published in the Guardian, click here.