Asperger's syndrome and the adverse effects of Stigmatization

Topics: Autism, Asperger syndrome, Pervasive developmental disorder Pages: 6 (1560 words) Published: March 4, 2014

Asperger’s syndrome and the adverse effects of stigmatization 2

The Center for Disease and Control estimates that, “1 in 88 children has been identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder” and shows a 78% increase since 2007 (CDC, 2012). However, many children with Asperger’s are often misdiagnosed with mental illness, such as bipolar disorder or ADHD. A man named Sean Honeysett was misdiagnosed for nearly two decades, was prescribed anti-psychotic drugs, and was in and out of institutions for several years, until his mother saw a show about Asperger’s on television. (BBC, 2000) Sean is now getting the proper care he should have received when he was a child. Since Asperger’s Syndrome is relatively new in the medical world, the cases of misdiagnosed children are mostly due to the lack of awareness of physicians and parents. In order to decrease the number of the misdiagnosed, increase the level of awareness and reduce the stigma and labeling of children with Asperger’s Syndrome, there needs to be a fuller understanding in today’s society of the syndrome and complete disclosure of the history, symptoms and treatment, with the purpose of providing the appropriate support that these children rightly deserve.

Asperger’s syndrome and the adverse effects of stigmatization 3

While children with Asperger’s Syndrome have an average to above average intelligence and normal cognitive abilities, they unfortunately suffer with impaired social skills. An effective treatment program will have to be tailored to fit the specific child’s Asperger’s in order for the child to be successful in managing his or her own behaviors. This form of treatment is run by a psychologist, counselor, speech pathologist, or social worker, these therapies are invaluable ways to build social skills and the ability to read verbal and non-verbal cues that is often lacking in those with Asperger's. (WebMD, 2013) Without the implementation of the appropriate treatment needed for the lack of social skills as a child, these deficits will continue into adulthood and affect societal and professional performance. According to Szatmari, Bartolucci & Bremner (1989), “Adults with ASD are much more likely than the general population to be unemployed or underemployed and much less likely to have satisfying social relationships” (Szatmari, Bartolucci & Bremner, 1989, Para. 3). The results of this study may have had something to do with the lack of treatment in children with Asperger’s. Even though there is not a cure for this syndrome, understanding the multiple treatment options can reduce the stigma and inaccurate labeling of children with ASD.

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Labels can negatively impact a person with ASD, and the lack of knowledge and experience with ASD have caused stigmatization. Until 1994, “ASD was not recognized as a separate disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or the International Classification of Diseases” (Fombonne, 2009). Consequentially since the documentation, there have not been much research done specifically for the disorder, but for other mental illnesses that are more well-known. Some small studies have been performed and the results did indicate stigmatization towards children and adults with ASD. (Shtayermman, 2007) Butler & Gillis (2010) confirmed that the stigmatization is real and stated, “Swaim and Morgan (2001) and a subsequent replication by Campbell et al. (2004) found that school age children demonstrated negative attitudes towards a video of a peer with autism in comparison to a control condition” (Butler & Gillis, 2010). Until there is more research and studies performed on people with Asperger’s, there will be increased stigmatization towards the disorder, instead of awareness.

Asperger’s syndrome and...

References: Baio, John. (Mar. 2012). New data on autism spectrum disorders. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from
Butler, R., and J
Hill, Matthew. (27 June 2000). Autism misdiagnosis ruined a life. BBC News. Retrieved from /2/hi/health/787526.stm
Khouzam, H
National Institutes of Health. (2012) What is Asperger’s syndrome? National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) Retrieved from
Rao, P
Sterling, Lindsey, Geraldine Dawson, Annette Estes, and Jessica Greenson. (2008) "Characteristics associated with presence of depressive symptoms in adults with autism spectrum disorder." Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 38.6: 1011-018.
Weintraub, Alan. (2000) What is Asperger 's syndrome? Symptoms, tests, causes, treatments. WebMD. WebMD, Retrieved from
Williams, J
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