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Elon Musk: Is It Asperger’s or Degree 1 ASD?

Could 14, 2021 — When billionaire Tesla founder Elon Musk revealed he has Asperger’s syndrome on his latest Saturday Night time Dwell internet hosting gig, many applauded his transparency and the power to talk about a situation that is typically stigmatized.

Others, whereas nonetheless appreciating the honesty, level out that Asperger’s is outdated terminology. It’s not seen as a analysis within the Diagnostic and Statistical Guide of Psychological Issues, the “bible” utilized by psychological well being professionals to diagnose circumstances. As an alternative, it falls beneath the umbrella of autism spectrum dysfunction (ASD). The DSM was final up to date in 2013.

ASD is now outlined by the American Psychiatric Affiliation as “a fancy developmental situation that includes persistent challenges in social interplay, speech and nonverbal communication, and restricted/repetitive behaviors.” The affiliation emphasizes that there’s a big selection of skills and traits in those that have the situation.

Asperger’s and a number of other different related problems that had been beforehand identified individually are actually termed ASD, says Matthew Siegel, MD, vp of medical affairs for the developmental problems service line at Maine Behavioral Healthcare in Portland, who specializes within the therapy of autism spectrum problems. The first purpose the change was made was as a result of medical doctors had been unable to make dependable diagnoses of Asperger’s and a number of other different autism-like circumstances based mostly on sufferers’ signs and presentation, which differ enormously, Siegel says. Researchers could not reliably duplicate these totally different classes of autism of their research, both, he says.

“So the choice was made to deal with it as a spectrum dysfunction and attempt to embody the numerous variations throughout individuals who have autism,” Siegel says. The change in title acknowledges this distinction in severity amongst these with ASD, says Siegel, who’s additionally an affiliate professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at Tufts College Faculty of Drugs. “We’re score the severity of signs as an alternative of making an attempt to parse that into totally different diagnoses.” Now, medical doctors diagnose ASD as stage 1, 2, or 3, Siegel says, with stage 1 the analysis for high-functioning sufferers with much less extreme points. “The therapy ought to match the severity,” he says.

The brand new time period is much less derogatory, says Victor M. Fornari, MD, vice chair of kid and adolescent psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, NY. “‘Autistic individual’ sounds pejorative, moderately than ASD, which displays a broader spectrum. ASD displays a extra cohesive understanding of the dysfunction occurring alongside a continuum.”

As to why individuals cling onto the outdated time period, Siegel says it might be the time period used after they had been first identified.

“I believe the factor that’s thrilling is that if Elon Musk is reporting he has autism — whether or not utilizing an outdated time period or not — is for the general public to see an individual elevate the stigma about diagnoses like autism, by no matter title it’s known as,” he says. “And other people can see that people with autism, some, might be fairly profitable and a part of our society.”

WebMD Well being Information


Victor M. Fornari, MD, vice chair, baby and adolescent psychiatry, Zucker Hillside Hospital, Glen Oaks, NY.

Matthew Siegel, MD, vp of medical affairs, developmental problems service line, Maine Behavioral Healthcare, Portland; affiliate professor of psychiatry and pediatrics, Tufts College Faculty of Drugs.

American Psychiatric Affiliation: “What Is Autism Spectrum Dysfunction?” 


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