Archive for March, 2010


This video is from a few months ago, but I just now got to watch it, and I thought it was pretty neat.  It’s a segment ESPN did about professional surfer Clay Marzo, who has Asperger’s syndrome.

I found it interesting to see an account of someone who was diagnosed with Asperger’s as an adult, like I was.  I very much identify with one of the things Marzo says late in the video about Asperger’s being like having a “cup” for handling social situations that “overflows” more quickly than it does for others.

I also identify with having a place that feels like a comfortable “escape” (though for me, it tends to be a computer rather than anything athletic!) and with having a supportive family.

Let’s see if it’s possible to post the video on this page… Hmm. I guess it isn’t. In that case, follow this link to watch the movie at ESPN.com:

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=4378047

I figured I would take a closer look at the proposed changes the American Psychiatric Association is talking about for the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) set to be released in May 2013.

Again, I want to stress that I don’t have any training in psychiatry, so please don’t consider me an expert!  I’m just trying to write about my own reactions as I learn and think about this myself.  The APA has a website set up that has a lot of information about these changes, and explanations for why they are making them.

The 4th edition of the DSM gives criteria for five separate diagnoses that either sometimes or always fall under the autistic spectrum:

  • Autistic Disorder
  • Asperger’s Disorder
  • Childhood Disintegrative Disorder
  • Rett’s Disorder
  • Pervasive Development Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified

(It seems that the word “syndrome” can apply just as easily to these names as the word “disorder,” by the way.  A syndrome is simply a set of traits or characteristics that appear together.)

In the new 5th edition of the DSM, the APA plans to remove these five diagnoses as separate categories, replacing them with a single diagnosis:

  • Autistic Spectrum Disorder

Why is this?  Well, let’s take a closer look at how the DSM-IV defines the five categories:

Continue reading

Overall, I think it has been great being back in school again.  It gives me a chance to interact with people near my own age and work on my social skills, an area in which I’m often very uncertain.  But from time to time, I’m reminded that my mind just doesn’t seem to work the same way as other people’s.

On the morning of my final presentation in Photoshop class, I was walking to my third-floor classroom, and as I entered the stairwell, I held the door open for a young woman, and she smiled at me.

I thought it was nice of her to do that, as not many people smile at strangers early in the morning.  As I walked up the stairs a few steps ahead of her, I expected her to leave the stairwell at the second floor.  (I often find myself keeping track of where other people are going and sometimes hoping they will go another direction, as I feel more self-conscious if I know someone else can see me.)

But the woman kept following me up to the top floor of the building, and she was still following me down the hall toward my classroom!

As I neared the classroom, I began to suspect what turned out to be the case.  She had been one of my classmates in that class this whole quarter!  Her smile had been one of recognition, but embarrassingly, I wasn’t able to recognize her outside of the classroom.  It was only after she sat down in her usual seat two chairs away from me that I was able to remember that I had seen her before.    😐

Back when I started this blog, I did a series of posts about how Asperger’s Syndrome is defined, using the guidelines in the fourth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or the DSM-IV for short:

The 4th edition was published in 1994, and it was the first edition to attempt to provide diagnostic criteria for Asperger’s syndrome– it uses six such traits to define Asperger’s.  (Note that it doesn’t try to explain why these traits are associated with Asperger’s, or what causes Asperger’s, or what people with Asperger’s should do/not do.  These questions are all outside its scope.  It’s merely trying to give a list of characteristics to look for.)

It’s important to remember that books like the DSM-IV are meant to provide labels for grouping people into categories based on outward signs like abilities, behavior, and what a person says about him or herself.  A label like “Asperger’s syndrome” is a tool that can be used wisely or unwisely, and as scientists learn more, they sometimes find that they want to adjust their system of labels.

That’s the case here, with the fifth edition of the manual being put together.  It’s set to be published in 2013, but a lot of the decisionmaking about the DSM-V is happening now.  The APA released an overview of the proposed changes to the public in February, and they are taking public comments until April 20.

One of the changes is that there will no longer be a separate diagnosis for Asperger’s Syndrome. Rather, there will be a single category labeled “Autism Spectrum Disorder” that includes both “classical” autism and Asperger’s syndrome (as well as two other diagnoses).  The rationale for this is that it had proven impossible to draw a clear dividing line between these different categories.

It has been interesting to read the reactions of people on the autistic spectrum to this news.  Some people think it’s a positive move that more accurately represents reality, while others are worried about how it will change people’s perceptions of them.  I think I might try posting about this in more detail.

For one thing, I’m wondering if this means I should change the site’s heading to “the musings of an autistic Christian.”  Of course, nothing has changed about me; just the label is different.