Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Asperger's/Autism debate

Listen to a CBC Metro Morning discussion about how parents and doctors feel about the American Psychiatric Association's proposed change to have the diagnosis of Asperger syndrome fall under Autism Spectrum Disorder. On the panel is Dr. Jessica Brian, co-lead of the Autism Research Centre at Holland Bloorview.

Metro Morning: Changing Definition

We interviewed Jessica earlier on the topic here: New autism definition makes sense, clinician-scientist says.


Hey Louise;

I'm very much behind the change. Speaking as an Aspie, and soon to be Autistic, adult. I never saw much of a difference myself, except in terms how the sensory integration problems manifested themselves. It was when I was observing my students working with autistic children that I first saw myself reflected in another person. Watching a child stimming I thought, wow, that's what I'd be doing if I could. Then I started to realize why I didn't do it, and what had really caused me to stop. It was about a year later that I actually got my diagnosis.

Obviously I'm at the top in terms of functionality, enough so that the university required two more assessments, each more involved, before I got my disability accommodation. Interestingly enough, each assessment placed me further along the spectrum, as we looked past my compensatory strategies.

Oh, I did have a point. What i like about this change is now we're all together as part of a continuum. I'm in a position to support and advocate on behalf of others like myself who may not have the resources to do as much for themselves as we can do together.

I've recently joined ASAN ( and am setting up a Toronto chapter. I very much like their slogan "Nothing about us without us." It speaks to the notion that autistics, and all people with disabilities should be given the opportunity to speak for themselves, in whatever language and to whatever level of communication they are able.

Those of us who can pass as neurotypical or are perceived to be without disability, have a great opportunity to broaden the notion of what all PWDs can do, and should be supported in doing. And all organizations that claim to speak on our behalf without keeping our voice front and centre will be called out and challenged if they are perceived to be silencing those they claim to help.

As you can guess, I appreciate you work helping give voice to those who are otherwise silenced.

Jason Nolan, PhD
Director - Experiential Design and Gaming Environments (EDGE) Lab
BA/MA programs Early Childhood Studies
Graduate program Communications and Culture
Ryerson University
350 Victoria Street
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5B 2K3
twitter: jasonnolan

Hi Jason -- I'm so glad to hear from you and I love your perspective on the benefits of bringing the diagnoses under one umbrella in terms of strengthening the voice of those affected.

I'm excited to hear about the local chapter of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network ( you're setting up. I hope you will write a guest blog for us at some point on some of the many issues we've discussed about ctreating meaningful lives for all people with disability. Let me know if you have any story ideas. Thanks!