People often want to understand the terms of Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, or PDD.NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified). That last one should give us all a clue of how ridiculous some of these terms are. Diagnostic terms are just labels (dreamed up by someone) of behavior patterns that have been observed and studied, some more rigorously than others. I believe there is a true pattern of differences if one looks at behavior as a whole, but I am not a true believer in the diagnostic terms. I don’t believe that there are necessarily any real differences between people diagnosed with PDD.NOS or those diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. I have found the real difference is among the clinicians who provide the diagnosis. Some prefer one term over the other! I can often predict whether or not a person will get diagnosed on the autism spectrum and with which label not by the person’s characteristics but by the person who does the evaluation. So my recommendation is not to get invested in the specific label. This is why I prefer the general term of an autism spectrum disorder. Instead, I suggest evaluating if you think upon research and reflection if autism spectrum characteristics do describe well the person in question. However, one last caveat. I still don’t really like the term autism spectrum disorder, due to the word “disorder.” A disorder would clearly imply a non-preferred state of being and/or a disability and many people “on the spectrum” would not see themselves like that and neither would I. I will use that term for now for lack of another alternative that would be well recognized. Next post will cover more about those characteristics that we would look for in an ASD.
Question: What do you think about the diagnostic labels, or about the idea of a disorder?