There are huge misconceptions out there about Asperger's. I visited a board recently at Cafemom where someone asked for clarification on what Asperger's was. The answers people gave were pretty incorrect. It was so far off that it bordered on being funny. Here is a part of the person's question: "From what I've heard/read it "SEEMS" that any "quirk" a person has making it clear they aren't perfect, means they have Autism. If you have a speech impediment then it means they have Asperger's."
One person responded with the following (not edited for misspellings, etc.): "ok not a perfessional or anything just coming from someone who knows people/children that have both.. From what I gather aspergers is what they diagnose you with when your an adult and they have missed it as a kid and it is what autism develeps into when you get older and have been diagnosed as autistic as a child. Does that make sense? It's iike aspergers is the "mature" version kinda. Again i am not a doctor this is just from what i have observed/ been told by these people. Their is way more to it but that is kinda the gist of it."
This confustion isn't surprising at all. Asperger's is oftentimes misrepresented in the media. The television show Parenthood does an amazing job showing a child with Asperger's, however. Many people don't realize that Asperger's is a form of autism. Heck, the state I live in, California, doesn't seem to realize this! If a child gets an Asperger's diagnosis in California or Texas, they will not get services.
This is crazy to me! A child with Asperger's has similar issues as a child with autism. The three main areas affected for both are: 1) sensory 2) communication, and 3) socialization. The main difference between Asperger's and autism is when language is acquired. A child with Asperger's generally has no speech delay. In fact, these kids can have very advanced vocabularies. A child with autism can have enormous speech delays and may never even acquire the ability to speak.
I can imagine many of you out there reading this saying, "Well, if the child with Asperger's can speak, then they don't have the problems with communication that you listed above!" While it's true that a child with Asperger's can speak, they still have problems with communication. Having a two-way conversation can be extremely difficult for a child with Asperger's. They can be quite content with having a two-hour speech on the mating habits of Katydids, but not be able to tell that the other person has tuned them out 1 hour and 56 minutes earlier.
Another misconception is that Asperger's is a very high-functioning form of autism. While this is probably generally true, it's not always the case. Asperger's has a spectrum also. Some kids with Asperger's can be higher functioning, but there are cases where a child with Asperger's can be lower-functioning. In fact, it's entirely possible that a child with high-functioning autism could be much higher functioning than another child with Asperger's.
In 2012, the American Psychiatric Association may be doing away with the diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome from the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). This is very controversial within the autism community. For one thing, many adults with Asperger's like their label and do not want to see it officially go away. The move to fold Asperger's into the broader autism diagnosis is because they want the focus to be on severity of the condition. As I stated above, the Asperger's label can be misunderstood in this context.
Does this mean that the Asperger's label is going away? Probably in the official diagnosis only. I think people who would have otherwise been labeled as having Asperger's will still consider themselves to be Aspies. If it means that kids with Asperger's will no longer be denied services in California and Texas, then I'm all for getting rid of the Asperger's label. Officially, my daughter doesn't have this label. I still consider her to have Asperger's, however.