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The Aspergers Brand (Getting the Aspie Label)

Posted Feb 27 2008 12:00am
Subjectivity in Aspergers Diagnosis
There is no litmus paper test for Aspergers. The label is applied on the basis of set criteria ( DSM IV ) which are determined by subjective analysis. Sometimes that analysis is in the form of questionnaires, sometimes as day-long tests and sometimes it seems to be almost arbitrarily applied by practitioners.

The symptoms of Aspergers vary from one person to another both in presence/combination and in intensity and no two aspies are exactly alike. If anything, the aspie label is quite similar to the online " geek tests " and coincidently, there is a high correlation between geeks and aspies.

This isn't to say that Aspergers is an imaginary condition but rather to say that unlike specific tested conditions where the label describes the symptoms, Aspergers is the opposite. Here, the symptoms describe the label.

An Example: Deafness
A deafness label automatically means that one will have certain symptoms - difficulty hearing and as a result, speaking),

Using our deafness example to illustrate how the Aspergers label is different;

Someone has certain symptoms - difficulty hearing and as a result, speaking - therefore, we diagnose deafness.

This doesn't hold water. A person who has the difficulty hearing/speaking symptoms doesn't automatically have deafness. There could be other reasons.

In the Aspergers diagnosis, if you display the syptoms, then you get the label.

Reactions to the Label
Aspies and their Parents, Spouses etc, often have a wide range of reactions to the new "Aspergers" label. These reactions include; Denial, Grief and Frustration. Surprisingly, not a lot of literature mentions happiness as a reaction - presumably because its not seen as a "real" reaction.

As someone who was diagnosed late in life (after all of my main trials; school, university, marriage, kids, work, mortgage), I'd already accepted who I was. My reaction was happiness because now I have an explanation for why.

Should you get Labeled?
This is the million-dollar question isn't it - to label or not to label. The best answer I can give is that you need to decide what labeling will achieve. In school-age kids, labeling will provide them with a lot of benefits, additional funding, extra time in exams etc. There's a very good reason to be labeled.

Adults, on the other hand, receive no such benefits - except in extreme cases, where they probably are already receiving benefits. Unless labeling is free of charge, or would provide considerable personal "satisfaction" benefit, there's no reason for an adult to be labeled as an aspie.
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