Have you heard? Everyone’s favorite vague but strangely appealing diagnosis, Asperger’s Syndrome, is going away in May: The upcoming new edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual, the DSM-5, is ditching the “Asperger’s” label for the term “ASD-Level 1 (mild),” which sounds just as technical, specific, and yucky as it’s intended to. Asperger’s is now just plain old autism, a very real and unromantic condition that nobody wants to claim at a dinner party.

I hope you’re happy with yourselves. This is why you never get any nice clinical terms to play with, because you overuse them until they’re meaningless. Not since the Winona-Ryder-in-the-bug-house flick Girl, Interrupted popularized “borderline personality” has everyone secretly yearned for such a quick, simple, not-too-scary explanation for social awkwardness. Is your co-worker unfriendly? Calling him “just a little Asperger’s” made his rudeness easier to take. Is your significant other emotionally unavailable? A wistful pronouncement of “Asperger’s” made that coldness totally not her fault, and somehow potentially treatable, too.

Taking Asperger’s off the pop psychology table means taking responsibility for your own inarticulate, slow-witted personality. (Newtown shooter Adam Lanza, who may or may not have had real Asperger’s, kind of removed the benign sheen from the word anyway). This will be a traumatic process –– at least until Dr. Oz can popularize an even better misdiagnosis.


  1. This is both ignorant and hateful, as can only be written by someone whose only experience and knowledge of ASD comes from talking heads postulating on news channels. Believe it or not, this is something real people deal with every day, and it’s not a fad or a pet neurosis. As an Aspie parent of an autistic child, this isn’t a matter of fads or lazy parenting but a set of challenges we come up against every day. Sorry if plain old autism isn’t romantic enough for you, but research a little more before putting your foot in your mouth–Asperger’s and autism are two parts of the same spectrum. As far as ‘inarticulate, slow-witted personality,’ that’s rich coming so near the end of such a boorish, ignorant essay. And you go for the gold, too–throwing in a potshot about Lanza. First demean autistics, and then demonize them. Good show.

  2. Ms. Reaves,
    The reason I am writing you today is that I am deeply concerned about the article in the Fort Worth Weekly, titled: Bye Bye, Asperger’s: Now What’s Wrong With Me? Posted by Jimmy Fowler. Apparently Mr. Fowler has never had the pleasure of meeting or working with someone with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder or ASD. Yes, the medical profession has chosen to lump Asperger’s into the broad spectrum of ASD, but by no means doses it insinuate that it does not exist!! I understand that there are some miss diagnosis of this disorder, just like there are misdiagnosis of many other mental diseases. I think the article is a slap in the face to anyone that has ASD or is raising a child with ASD.
    I am also concerned about his comment about Adam Lanza! Is it just to get the “Wow” factor? Is that how journalism works today? If this is the case, maybe there needs to be some diagnosis for the mental disease the so called “Journalist” suffer from today!
    Again please consider removing this damaging piece of work from your site, as it serves no worthwhile purpose.

    William Klentzman
    Father of a child with ASD

  3. This article is extrememly insluting. To imply that Aspergers is just a fun label for rude people is completely ridiculous. Aspergers, or ASD Level 1, is a real disorder effecting real people, everyday. The fact that the name of the disorder is being changed is merely the result of research which shows that these are the same disorder, just at different levels. And also implying that people who have Aspergers are rude is also very insulting. My 5 year old son has Aspergers and very good manners. He is a very sweet child and isn’t rude or unattached. Please, do your own research, and don’t unfairly label anyone. Thank you Jimmy Fowler, for adding to America’s misunderstanding of mental disorders.

  4. I am aspergic, and my Asperger’s is not ‘a quick, simple, not-too-scary explanation for social awkwardness’. It is a very real disability.

    I support the DSM-5 decision to incorporate Asperger’s into the autism diagnosis. However, this decision does not mean that psychiatrists think aspergic people are just socially awkward. Asperger’s was originally distinguished from autism by the absence of a delay in speech acquisition, and it has now been decided that this difference does not merit a separate diagnosis. In other words, aspergic people are still autistic, still disabled, and still in need of understanding and support.

    Nor should autism be dismissed as ‘a very real and unromantic condition that nobody wants to claim at a dinner party’. I am proud to be autistic and there are many positive aspects of autism. Comments like this reduce autism to the stigma wrongly attached to it.

  5. I am an autism advocate from Oregon who has Aspergers, as well as two children who also have this neurological difference. I am surprised by the highly unprofessional article, “Bye Bye Asperger’s” by Jimmy Fowler. No research at all has clearly been done, and I find it unlikely that he has even met an autistic person. The DSM IV and DSM 5 criteria for autism and Aspergers are very well defined, not “vague” as Mr. Fowler claims. The diagnostic process for autism spectrum disorders is lengthy and multidisciplinary, including parent interviews, family history, developmental history, teacher questionnaire, sensory questionnaire, developmental pediatricans, occupational therapists, and speech language pathologists. It seemed like every specialist in the area had their input in the process, but I can say that Dr. Oz was not involved. This piece should be removed from your website. Even opinion pieces should be based on a little research!

  6. I wish it were easy to diagnose. My son may have an extra year to get on an early intervention program. I had to quit my job and go through some terribly long, arduous evaluations. It took an entire year! It took several PhD’s and the University of Miami to get it done. We didn’t just show up at a dinner party and claim my son should be stuck with a lifelong struggle to fit in. Why would anyone do that? Mr. Fowler clearly is bitter and ignorant and this article is a cheap shot. Why would anyone post this trash? Let’s kick the people who are already hardwired for struggle. Awesome job!

  7. Why this paper would print this type of hate speech is hard to imagine. Why they would choose to leave it up, despite numerous complaints is rather unbelievable.

    There are real-world people with Aspergers and Autism – these are not just play words to be bandied about for the author’s amusement. It is unfortunate and ignorant that the author has this attitude. But for the Fort Worth Weekly to allow it to proliferate – that’s the real crying shame.

  8. Relax people, this was written by a “journalist” at a free alt-weekly, who is paid less than most dishwashers – of course he’s going to write like a smarmy retard to afflict the afflicted.

  9. Wow, this generated a passionate response that I didn’t expect. People have a right to their reactions, but I feel that some of the criticisms are unfair. Stay tuned for a “Blotch” post defending the piece.

      • I suppose he didn’t expect such a response from a population of slow-witted, inarticulate personalities. But I’m impressed at the ability to put both feet in his mouth.

  10. Previous comments have illustrated the narrow-minded and sophomoric tone of this article. I would only add that I wish you never have to experience what my life has been like both as the mother of child with ASD and someone with this disorder. Then again, maybe you should have that experience. I may be socially awkward, but at least I have compassion. The same cannot be said of you.

  11. I have Asperger’s Syndrome (For real) and I found this article gave me a wry smile… but then I like political incorrectness*shrug*.

    It never ceases to amaze me how easily butthurt other people with Asperger’s at the merest implication of anything negative about some aspect of them.

    Also,the commenter who said “Relax people, this was written by a “journalist” at a free alt-weekly, who is paid less than most dishwashers – of course he’s going to write like a smarmy retard to afflict the afflicted.” – cough – OBAMA’S SEAT – COUGH – shared an opinion which I personally find much more offensive than anything in the article.

    However, live and let live: Everyone’s entitled to their wrong opinion and I’m entitled to my wrong opinion.

  12. Well said Katie, couldn’t agree more.

    I have a 5 year old daughter who has autism. I find it ironic that my beautiful child, who has more compassion, intelligence and less judgement of others finds it difficult to relate these traits to others while this ‘journalist’ has not much of the aforementioned traits but can bellow his tripe loud and clear.

    To the person who wrote this, I might be wrong but I suspect you wrote such an inflammatory piece deliberately, hoping to get a hell of a lot of passionate responses, a public outcry if you will and, as a result, bring a nice chunk of media attention to it? I mean, having something you’ve written online go viral enough to get airtime, whether its in a positive way or a negative way would bring SOME attention to you, right?

    So forgive me if I only hear sarcasm in your response to the other comments here, when you say that you didn’t expect such a passionate response and to “stay tuned” for your next piece on this matter.

    Right. We all await your next brilliant article: ‘I Have No Effing Clue What I’m About To Write But I Will Write It Anyway Because Autism Is SO HOT Right Now!’

    P.S Actually read your follow-up before I read this piece and…. You still don’t get it dude. You are definitely better off writing your next article with nothing but a whole lot of ??????’s in it. You would come off looking a LOT more well-informed that way.

  13. So, with my slow-witted brain, I put my mouse over the brain picture with this article. Then, I inarticulately decided to google image the hyperarticulate text that pops up when you mouseover (“human brain on white background”). Lo and behold, the 2nd image that is returned is the one from this article (jacked from the, without being credited, no less). Perhaps some ASD-Level 1 deduction can shed some insight as to why the second most popular image result was selected over the first (and, yes, both the first and second image come from the, so sourcing issues don’t explain). I can only imagine the “aha! moment” that happened with the image-selector matched up the 0120_WVmentallyill.jpg image with this article, as opposed to the 1025_WVlead.jpg image.

    But, hey, what do I know? I’m just a rude moron who takes no responsibility for my behavior and doesn’t deserve a chic diagnosis (much like some rude moron I know who doesn’t deserve to have his “journalism” and, subsequently, inarticulate unapologetic apology published in print or on the web).

    ps. I wouldn’t recommend picking a fight with a population that has, as a diagnostic criteria “Restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interest, and activities, as manifested by at least one of the following:
    a. encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus”…it probably won’t work out well.

  14. I was not offended at all by this article. It does not come across to me as insulting people with Asperger’s, but rather cautioning about the overuse of labels in our society. Asperger’s has become almost a catch phrase that society(not necessarily the author of this article) arbitrarily applies to anyone who doesn’t quite fit in. I think the author is actually complaining about society’s ignorance of the subject, as opposed to actually being ignorant of it himself, as many of you are assuming.