I think the public have a terrible habit of stereotyping disability issues as a whole in Ireland but I think this is particularly true for conditions on the autistic spectrum. There is a habit of presuming people with autism are non-verbal, have low Iqs and will never live independently and that those on the Aspergers Syndrome end of the autistic spectrum are genuises, people who change the world and people who are like walking calculators.
Those of who know a little bit about autism realise that this is far from the truth – that every case on the autistic spectrum is unique and personal – there are people with autism who live very full lives and equally there are people with Aspergers Syndrome who struggle to even hold down a regular 9-5 job. It is with this view that I am delighted to be guestblogging here today, many people presume those with Aspergers Syndrome are automatically excellent academically however that truth is that around 75% of those diagnosed with the condition will have learning disabilities as well, with clear evidence in place to suggest that a person with either Aspergers Syndrome, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dycalculia or Dyspraxia at an increase chance of having another condition on the spectrum. For example, I myself am a person with Aspergers who also has dyspraxia and strong traits of ADHD.
On that basis I think a very important thing we must keep in mind when discussing diagnosis is that when someone has autism or has Aspergers or has a condition like dyslexia that the investigation does not stop there but rather additional investigation is sought to ensure any other condition which may be present in an individual is diagnosed officially also to ensure that the needs of the person concerned can be met. DSM-V, the new manual of mental health conditions, which takes effect in May has put all conditions (including Aspergers Syndrome and ADHD) on the autistic spectrum under one diagnosis type, A.S.D (Autistic Spectrum Disorder), on the very argument that more accurate, recognisable and definitive diagnosis is required – the new diagnosis form will also include 3 “levels” of Autism and allow doctors to attach labels to the diagnosis so for example “Aspergers-Like A.S.D”. There have been major questions raised about the new system but I hope that if it is to be implemented we will see the more robust diagnosis system in operation that is talked about.
Too often people with Aspergers Syndrome, ADHD or another condition on the autistic spectrum are in schools and in need of education learning support but not receiving the correct supprot because conditions like dyslexia or dyspraxia have not been identified after the official diagnosis of an autism related condition is in place. This is regretable because so much can be done to help peopel overcome such conditions.
On AspergersAdvice.org we are all about discussion and I would be keen to hear you own views on dual-diagnosis and your experiences of where conditions like dyslexia and dyspraxia cross-over. We have a forum for our members to share such experiences and start their own discussions and I really do hope that many of you will consider coming along and checking us out. We are also user-led our agenda is set by those who use the site, as too many disability services are created without the user in mind, and so I would also welcome any articles or issues you guys would like to raise on our site and you can get in touch with us on aspergersadvice.org. While our website is currently “garage-style” we are currently registering as a charity and look forward to unveiling a new look website in the coming months.
Adam Harris is Founder of AspergersAdvice.org, an online information and social hub for those affected by Aspergers Syndrome (the site is currently expanding to cater for the whole autistic spectrum. To find out more about AspergersAdvice.org see: