Sourced from YouTube, text by Joel Wilson, ASAN AUNZ Web Intern

Simon Baron Cohen discusses whether we should use Disorder, or Conditions, when discussing the Autism Spectrum.


I’ve broken down some of the key points; however If you have the time I suggest you watch/listen to the 32 minute video above.


Disorder :

  • “Lack of order or intelligible pattern”
  • “Randomness”


  • “A state of being”
  • (“social conditions” or “the condition of your health”)


Pros and Cons of both ASD and ASC

Pros of “ASD”: Implies severity and suffering

  • Epilepsy, self-injury, mutism, gastro-intestinal pain, general learning difficulties

Cons of “ASD” 

  • Most cases don’t involve these features
  • Implies something is broken
  • Is more harsh and stigmatizing
  • The neurobiology shows difference, not dysfunction
  • The psychology shows deficits, differences, and assets

Pros of “ASC”

  • Signals biomedical, disability, and vulnerability
  • Less hard-hitting and more respectful
  • Can include range of severity
  • Acknowledges both deficits, assets, and a different “cognitive style”
  • Carries fewer value judgements/more neutral

Cons of “ASC”

  • “I can’t think of any”


Why Disorder?

The DSM (and american doctors) loves “disorder”

  • Reading Disorder
  • Mathematics Disorder
  • Oppositional Defiant Disorder
  • Major Depressive Disorder
  • Intermittent Explosive Disorder (Anger issues)

The main reason for all these new Disorders, is because America would not offer health insurance if they weren’t categorised as a Disorder.

The DSM puts autism in the “Pervasive Development Disorder” area.

The American Psychiatric Association has renamed “Autism” to “Autistic Disorder” and “Asperger Syndrome” to “Asperger’s Disorder”.

Why the changes?