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DSM5 Autism Spectrum Disorder Has Arrived: Are Ari Ne'eman and John Elder Robison Still Autistic?

Posted May 19 2013 7:30am

The DSM5 has been released and is now beginning to impact the world of autism.  Most discussion of the DSM5's New Autism Spectrum Disorder has ignored the effect of the language of mandatory criterion A which will act to exclude from autism diagnosis those with severe intellectual disability. Most of the discussion has focused on the potential exclusionary impact on those who would meet DSM-IV Asperger's criteria.  That being said the DSM5 autism team leaders have assured the high functioning end of the DSM-IV autism spectrum that those currently diagnosed with Asperger's or high functioning autism will not lose their diagnosis.  They will in effect be "grandfathered" in to the new autism spectrum. The answer to this commentary's title question is  therefore NO, Ne'eman and Robison, two very high functioning "Aspergians" will not lose their autism diagnoses.  

Although they will be grandfathered into the new DSM5 autism era will Ari Ne'eman and John Elder Robison and other  very, very high functioning "Aspergians" and "Autistics" remain as credible (in the eyes of mainstream media and Autism Speaks) spokespersons for persons at all points on the DSM5 autism spectrum?  Will persons who routinely appear in high profile media interviews before the Washington press gallery, New York magazines, CNN, CBC, BBC, run successful businesses, establish corporate entities, sit on the boards of directors, participate in IACC meetings  and in some cases raise families be able to speak on behalf of those who meet mandatory  Criterion D of the DSM5 New Autism Spectrum Disorder which states that the social communication and restrictive repetitive symptoms together limit and impair daily functioning?  Can the corporate directors of the ASAN corporate entity, including those with professional and academic backgrounds and some with families, claim to be limited and impaired in their daily functioning in any meaningful way? 

The real answer is that it doesn't matter if they would meet DSM5 autism criterion D.   Convenience is the reason that researchers have so often excluded those with severe autism and cognitive challenges from their studies.  Researchers, like the media, need very high functioning participants and interview subjects to do their autism focused work and earn their pay cheques. Robison and Ne'eman's careers as autism spokespersons/"self" advocates are safe.  Persons at the more severe end of the autism spectrum will remain invisible, hidden from sight, and excluded from research,  while high functioning "self" advocates speak on their behalf.
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