DO NOT remove Aspergers from ASD in DSM-5

We the undersigned DISAGREE with the removal of Aspergers syndrome from the Autism Spectrum Disorder in the new DSM-5. Per the belief's stated on the APA website as to the reasoning behind the removal of Aspergers from ASD it is clear the APA has little to no evidence to support that Aspergers should be removed from the Autism Spectrum. The APA has NO clear definition of Autism and therefore should not be removing a diagnosis which has clear ties to ASD. Autism, PDD-NOS and Aspergers are all on the Autism Spectrum because they have similar challenges that have been proven to be helped by many of the same treatments.

By removing Aspergers you are condemning currently diagnosed individuals to a clinical diagnosis of strange. This is clear discrimination against Aspergers individuals that causes them pain and struggles in daily life. Therefore we ask that you leave Aspersers on the ASD until you have a clearly defined cause for Autism Spectrum Disorders as well as a clear definition that helps to diagnose treat and help children, adolescents and adults. The APA defines Autism as a psychiatric problem yet they ignore systemic and biological challenges they face on a daily basis. We therefore define our reasoning behind this petition below:

1) Individuals with Asperger's Syndrome deserve to be on the Autism Spectrum since they are a degree of variance of Autism: Asperger individuals will lose all funding they just received to help them combat a large variety of Autistic symptoms. Many Aspergers individuals have problems processing sensory materials, have abnormal EEG's, need behavioral therapies like ABA, need for sameness, trouble with transitions, need for specific textured foods, need to maintain a routine, which are also evident in Autism. By saying that Aspergers should be removed from ASD you are ignoring the fact that these children, adolescents and adults have autism like challenges that qualify them to be on ASD in the first place. Those who you deem "Higher Functioning" still by neuro-typical standards have an enormous amount of challenges that require treatment for early intervention success. Without this diagnosis childrens challenges become ignored as a difference that is not addressed or helped by the education system or general population.

2) Those with Aspergers Syndrome are not and cannot be clinically defined as personality different (a.k.a strange): By deeming Aspergers a personality difference you are condemning them to a life of being clinically defined as strange without any services to help them combat their struggles in life. They are not simply Autistic or Strange, this is discrimination and will not be tollerated.They have differences that make them unique but their challenges are real! To say they are not disrespects children, adolescents and adults who have a diagnosis to help aid them with treatments both behavioral and biological.
3) The APA has no clear definition of Autism or its causes, removing diagnoses from a spectrum for which your research and studies are lacking is pre-mature.  The DSM-V has been pushed back for years in an attempt to give the APA more time to define Autism. The fact of the matter is NO autistic child, adolescent or adult is the same. They each have a variant of biological, systemic and neurological atypical ties. How can you clearly remove a critical diagnosis such as Asperger's by simply lumping it with Autism? You have a PDD-NOS diagnosis for which our doctors put children in when they have no clear idea where they stand on the spectrum. Yet your willingness to remove Aspergers is without merit and clinically irresponsible. In addition, your diagnostic material completely ignores critical gastrointestinal challenges both Autistic and many Asperger's individuals exhibit as well. If you cannot clearly define and study the inherent causes of Autism then you should not be removing any diagnosis from the Autism Spectrum.

4) Individuals who seek out a diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome do not do so ONLY with the intention of defining where they fit into this world. There are educators, parents and family members of young children who seek out a diagnosis in order to help their child assimilate into social behavior, assist their sensory integration problems to reduce Stereotypy, Echolalia and much more. They do so also so they can understand how to assist themselves in a world were people treat them with disrespect and devalue their abilities, strengths and savant like behaviors. There are little to no services for Aspergers adults either which is suspect since Aspergers has been treated largely as a psychiatric problem. They are thrown out into the world after receiving years of critical treatment and treated as strange. This is clear discrimination by the APA.

5) Aspergers Syndrome is NOT two different diagnoses. Severity should not define one grouping as Autistic and the other as having a clinical personality problem. By all intents and purposes this is clinical fraud. Aspergers is clear and yet it is being split up into two categories, both of which conflict. You cannot say that more severe cases of Aspergers are simply autism and at the same time say higher function cases of Aspergers are just personality differences. This leaves so much confusion for those who are autistic, aspergers and neuro-typicals who have personality differences. Everyone is clearly different personality wise, how can you clinically define someone as personality abnormal when it is possible for Autistic children to improve over time?  Do then severely autistic children who gain improvements from interventions eventually become deemed clinically strange?

Aspergers is a real syndrome that needs attention, treatment and acceptance. This is a clear step backwards by the APA. Furthermore we find it particularly disturbing that the APA has only 1 drug that assists our children, adolescents and adults because of lacking medical studies. Cancer has over 1600 approved drugs, erectile dysfunction has 20 approved drugs and yet autism spectrum disorders have 1, Risperidol. The CDC has deemed that 1 in 91 children (1 in 54 boys) now have an autism spectrum disorder. This rapidly growing epidemic is being combated by REMOVING people from the spectrum to help combat the growing numbers instead of studying the disorder and assisting those on the spectrum by stopping autism at its source.

We ask respectfully that the APA review the impact of removing Aspergers from Autism Spectrum Disorders and delay this decision until more research has been conducted to prove that Aspergers should not be on the Autism Spectrum.

Aspergers Alliance

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