The End of the Asperger's Label

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Hanna Rosin, national correspondent for The Atlantic, writer for Slate and author of The End of Men: And the Rise of Women, discusses her article about her son's Asperger's diagnosis, and why it was helpful to their family when, right after his diagnosis, Asperger's was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.


Hanna Rosin

Comments [10]


it's both too vague and too specific at one and the same time. it's also a label that's been turned into a cultic cottage industry, for power hungry opportunists such as Michael John Carley and others. and drug co's also have their share of the cut,and have unjustified influence in policy making.

Mar. 13 2014 10:27 PM
Aurora King from La Jolla CA

I agree with "Barbara from Westchester". Parents of children with special needs are frustrated. They can ill afford private schools and find special services in public schools wanting.

Mar. 08 2014 06:32 PM
Donald J. Sepanek from Bayonne, NJ

So if Asperger's can be "cured" by the stroke of a pen (they obviously don't "have" it anymore) why bother sending them to a special school?

Mar. 06 2014 03:23 PM
Melissa from Brooklyn, NY

I'm highly offended by the tone of this discussion. It's as if the Asperger's label is something highly coveted. It is not. People with Asperger's struggle with social and communication problems, repetitive behaviors, etc... just like those with Autism.

I'm a parent of a child with Autism (NOT Aspergers) and he is minimally verbal. Yet, at 6 years of age he is supposedly in 1st grade but reading at a 3rd grade level. He has no repetitive behaviors but is incredibly sensory-seeking, always looking to run, climb, etc. And he really does not have any conversation skills - only talks in short phrases when absolutely necessary.

The main problem is that people consider "the Spectrum" in a linear way - as if there is a mild/high-functioning end and a severe/low-functioning end. It is NOT like this. Autism is complicated. It seems to manifest differently in every way. So you can look at repetitive behaviors on one scale, then language ability on another, then social behaviors on another... These are separate and not equal.

Please don't think that if your child has "Aspergers" that he's in any way "better off" or "higher functioning" than my child. It insults me and makes me sick to my stomach. The new way of labeling makes me feel less insulted, so I stand by it.

Mar. 06 2014 11:26 AM
Anna from Queens

As for resources: The Queens Museum has a branch education program ArtAccess that serves people with special needs. We offer several programs for children and families with autism. More information here:

Mar. 06 2014 11:17 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

I think this whole label thing is crazy. We have to have them, so why drop them when they accurately describe a set of symptoms (or a recipe or a type of music or anything else)? I've read the whole DSM IV (haven't bought V yet) and I find the definitions very apt and on the nose. Believe it or not, you can read a description of any type of psychosis, neurosis or personality disorder and almost instantly diagnosis anyone on the street. The APA doesn't need to change the DSM to be politically correct; it just needs to have accurate descriptions of its various illnesses so we can distinguish a psychotic from a neurotic and treat them accordingly.

Insofar as autism spectrum, people with Asperger's are significantly higher functioning than those with plain old autism, but each individual expresses it slightly differently, so we can start with the label and then narrow it down to the individual's needs. How hard is that?

Mar. 06 2014 11:16 AM
Barbara from Westchester

This subject also brings up the issue of public school special services: often students with Aspbergers or nonverbal learning disability are very bright, but then have trouble getting special help because they do not perform "less than average" which is the school's def of needing help. However, when very bright students only perform at an average level, they feel horrible, stupid, and can develop anxiety and depression. Few people can afford to send their children to private schools!

Mar. 06 2014 11:13 AM
John A

In the field of programming (career hint), you will sometimes find up to 30% of staff with Aspergers symptoms. We all get along fairly well together.

Mar. 06 2014 11:11 AM
John A

Just say the label persists, but not as a Disorder.

Mar. 06 2014 11:04 AM
E Summer from NYC


It is AsPerger's syndrome, not AsBerger's.

Named after Dr. Asperger.

Thank you.

Mar. 06 2014 11:02 AM

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