Asperger’s disorder has been removed from the major psychiatric manual, leaving patients worried it will make life even harder.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, which psychiatrists use to diagnose mental illness in patients and the insurance industry often uses to decide what treatments to pay for, is being revised for the first time since 1994.
Asperger’s, a disorder where people are often highly skilled but find social situations difficult, will be removed from the new edition released next year and folded into an umbrella diagnosis “autism spectrum disorder” which includes kids with severe autism.
But sufferers say they have struggled for years to raise awareness of Asperger’s and the changes are going to leave the public confused.
“It’s going to set the whole journey back,” said Garry Burge, 40, who has Asperger’s. “It’s removing the label that assists people understand who they are.”
Dr Vicki Gibbs, the manager of peak body Autism Spectrum Australia (ASA), said she could understand why people who identify with the term Aspeger’s would feel confused and apprehensive about the changes.