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Autism and Aspergers Disorders – One or Two Categories?

Autism and Aspergers Disorders – One or Two Categories?

The classification of Asperger’s disorder within the autism spectrum has been a source of contention, especially since the change in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). This change marked a divergence from the DSM-IV-TR, which classified Asperger’s disorder and autism separately. Asperger’s syndrome was reclassified as a mild variant of autism, stressing the spectrum aspect of these persistent developmental disorders. This paper will investigate and take a position on this contentious issue, taking into account the opinions of both supporters and detractors and drawing on information from academic sources. In addressing this classification issue, it is critical to consider the implications for neurodevelopmental diagnosis, treatment, and understanding.

Whether Asperger’s Disorder Is A Type Of Autism

The controversy over whether Asperger’s illness is a kind of autism has raged on, with a notable shift in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The DSM-IV-TR, which preceded the DSM-5, categorized Asperger’s syndrome and autism as distinct disorders. However, the DSM-5 integrated Asperger’s disorder with autism, classifying it as a lesser type of autism. This reclassification represents a viewpoint that emphasizes the similarities in various disorders, emphasizing autism’s spectrum character. Asperger’s disorder and autism should be treated separately because the diseases have distinct traits and clinical manifestations (PBS NewsHour | Autism’s Causes: How Close Are We to Solving the Puzzle? | Season 2011 | PBS, 2011). The decision to classify Asperger’s condition as a kind of autism has sparked debate in the psychiatric and autism communities. The inclusion of Asperger’s disorder on the autism spectrum in the DSM-5 indicates a larger understanding of autism as a spectrum disorder with variable degrees of severity (Stone-MacDonald et al., 2022). Advocates for this reclassification claim that it provides for a more nuanced understanding of the various ways autism shows itself, as well as a more complete approach to diagnosis and intervention. However, detractors argue that Asperger’s illness is distinct from conventional autism because of its distinctive qualities, such as maintained language and cognitive ability. This ongoing dispute highlights the complexities of identifying neurodevelopmental illnesses, as well as the fluid nature of our understanding of their underlying causes.

Given the growing understanding of autism and associated illnesses, the classification of Asperger’s disorder within the autism spectrum remains a topic of current research and dispute. Both proponents’ and critics’ perspectives reflect continuing efforts within the scientific and medical community to refine and improve our diagnostic frameworks for neurodevelopmental diseases. As researchers continue to examine the underlying causes and manifestations of these problems, the taxonomy and conceptualization of disorders on the autism spectrum will most certainly develop, altering our understanding and approach to diagnosis and treatments in the coming years.

Asperger’s As A High-Functioning (Mild) Form Of Autism Or As A Disorder Separate From Autism

The decision to classify Asperger’s as a high-functioning or mild type of autism, rather than keeping it separate, is a complex and disputed one. Supporters of including Asperger’s syndrome into the autism spectrum, as indicated in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Diseases (DSM-5), say that it corresponds to a more inclusive and thorough understanding of neurodevelopmental diseases (Hirota & King, 2023). The spectrum model acknowledges the different ways these disorders emerge by identifying the similarities between Asperger’s and autism, allowing for a more nuanced approach to diagnosis and treatment.

However, opponents of this reclassification underline the distinctive characteristics of Asperger’s that set it apart from conventional autism. Individuals with Asperger’s syndrome frequently have intact language and cognitive ability, and their difficulties may be social and communicative in nature (Huynh et al., 2020). Some believe that describing Asperger’s as a mild form of autism risks oversimplification and ignoring of the disorder’s distinguishing traits. The debate reflects ongoing disputes among scientists and clinicians regarding the most precise and relevant approaches to define and explain neurodevelopmental problems.

Finally, whether Asperger’s syndrome should be classified as a high-functioning type of autism or as a separate condition is dependent on our increasing understanding of these disorders and the practical consequences for diagnosis and intervention. As we gain a better understanding of the neurological and genetic underpinnings of these conditions, it is critical for the psychiatric and autism communities to engage in ongoing dialogue and research to ensure that diagnostic frameworks accurately capture the diverse range of experiences and challenges faced by people on the neurodevelopmental spectrum.


In conclusion, the dispute over whether Asperger’s disorder should be classified as a high-functioning variant of autism or as a unique entity highlights the complications involved in defining neurodevelopmental disorders. While the DSM-5’s inclusion of autism within the spectrum aspires for a more inclusive understanding, others believe that Asperger’s distinct qualities should be preserved. The continuing evolution of our understanding of autism and associated illnesses demands ongoing study and debate to improve diagnostic paradigms. As the discipline progresses, the difficult balance between detecting commonality and appreciating different aspects will influence our approach to neurodevelopmental disorder diagnosis and intervention. Furthermore, it is critical to evaluate individuals with Asperger’s lived experiences and how the diagnostic classification may affect their access to support and accommodations. Furthermore, collaboration among academics, doctors, and activists will be critical in promoting a more complete and compassionate understanding of illnesses, ensuring that diagnostic criteria reflect the complex and complicated character of these conditions.


Hirota, T., & King, B. H. (2023). Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Review. JAMA, 329(2), 157–168.

Huynh, S., McCrimmon, A., & Strong, T. (2020). The Change in Classification of Asperger Syndrome: An Exploration of its Effects on Self-Identity. The Qualitative Report, 25(2).

PBS NewsHour | Autism’s Causes: How Close Are We to Solving the Puzzle? | Season 2011 | PBS. (2011).

Stone-MacDonald, A., Cihak, D. F., & Zager, D. (2022). Autism Spectrum Disorders: Advancing Positive Practices in Education. In Google Books. Taylor & Francis.


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Autism and Asperger’s Disorders – One or Two Categories?
The most common pervasive developmental disorders tend to fall into one of two categories: autism disorder and Asperger’s disorder.

Go to PBS and search for the video titled Autism’s Causes: How Close Are We to Solving the Puzzle, which was aired on PBS NewsHour’s show on April 19, 2011. You may also opt to read the transcript or listen to the audio available on the same web page.

Autism and Aspergers Disorders – One or Two Categories.

Autism and Aspergers Disorders – One or Two Categories.

Review the information presented in the video and complete the required readings for this week. Submit a 3- to 4-page paper and respond to the following:

Take a position on the current debate about whether Asperger’s disorder is a type of autism. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) moved Asperger’s disorder into the autism category and addressed it as a mild form of autism. There are many critics of this change to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR), which placed the two diagnoses in separate categories, indicating that Asperger’s disorder is not a form of autism (American Psychiatric Association, 2000).
Should Asperger’s have been labeled as a high-functioning (mild) form of autism, or should it have remained in its own category as a disorder separate from autism? Support your decision with information from academic sources.

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