The DSM 5 has dropped Asperger's as a condition one can suffer from. Now a person is autistic. Parents are up in arms!
One thing I've noticed on some parenting forums I visit is that people almost seemed pleased when their kids were diagnosed with Asperger's. It apparently had become some kind of shorthand for "genius". They don't want their kids to be diagnosed as autistic.
It turns out I'm not alone in noticing it: http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2013/05/autism_spectrum_diagnoses_the_dsm_5_eliminates_asperger_s_and_pdd_nos.html
It’s not only the fear of losing diagnoses that has parents and diagnosed individuals challenging the APA. Some say that the word autism carries a greater stigma, which may keep high-functioning individuals and their families from pursuing a diagnosis and the support that comes with it. As high-school senior Hannah Fjeldsted, who has Asperger’s, articulated clearly (if a bit insensitively) in a guest blog post at Autism Speaks, “The label of Asperger’s at least gives observers the impression of intelligence and ability. But when most people think of ‘autism,’ they think of someone who should be institutionalized.” Hibben also expresses concern over whether his son will embrace his diagnosis when he’s a teenager. “Now it’s almost cool to have Asperger’s,” he points out. “The Big-Bang Theory and Parenthood feature characters who have it.”
Parents of lower-functioning kids are also concerned about how the influx of high-functioning individuals will affect the public’s perception of autism—mainly because they feel autism is a serious disorder that people should associate with profound disability. One mother commented online that “the proposed DSM change would diminish the enormity of the challenges that those with moderate to severe autism have.” Ursitti, who has a daughter with Asperger’s and a son with severe autism, feels this is already happening: “If we have this national perspective that autism is a blessing, that it’s not a crisis, the ones who will lose out are the expensive ones, the severe ones. Legislators focus on the cheapest option, and celebration is cheaper than treatment.”
Reading this article reminded me so much of a conversation I had with my son earlier this year. He came home from school insisting he had ADD/ADHD. On further questioning I learned that he'd heard from his classmates that the drugs were good and that they made school easier.
It's probably because I started paying attention to such things that I noticed a lot of young people posting on forums asking how they could convince their parents that they suffered from ADD/ADHD. Kids want these drugs so they want the diagnosis. They don't think of it as mental illness.
I guess I'm kind of wondering how we got to the point where certain types of mental illness seem desirable.