In the 5th edition of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, issued by the American Psychiatric Association in May 2013, Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) was subsumed into the broader classification of “Autism Spectrum Disorder.”
Our members have forms of autism characterized by benefits and deficits. For example, autistics often develop extraordinary expertise in a given subject. They often have normal to above normal intelligence.
For example, Vernon L. Smith, an autistic professor at Chapman University in Orange County, California, shared in the 2002 Nobel Prize in economics. Professor Smith ascribes his acumen in economics to autism.
Tim Page, who won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for music criticism while chief classical music critic of The Washington Post, has autism. He has previously written for The New York Times and Newsday. Professor Page teaches at the Annenberg School of Journalism and the Thornton School of Music of the University of Southern California. He has written Parallel Play: Growing Up with Undiagnosed Asperger’s.
Not surprisingly, Professor Tony Attwood, one of the world’s leading experts on Asperger’s Syndrome, believes that many university professors have autism.
But not everyone on the autism spectrum can cope easily in society. Autistics often isolate themselves and are unable to work full-time or even at all. Some have found it impossible to complete their educations. And autism is often accompanied by clinical depression, chronic anxiety, AD(H)D, and other disabling conditions.
Thus it is important to provide support services and socialization opportunities. Currently most of these services focus on children and teenagers. But there are relatively few support services for autistic adults. We are trying to help change that.