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As an update to a previous BLOG that was written (pre-ICD-11), we have updated the info on the diagnostic criteria for autism as follows – 

Despite some training providers, resource materials, clinicians and families at the time of writing STILL referring to the OLD methodology of using the autism functionality labels: ‘severe’, ‘high functioning,’ and ‘Asperger’s Syndrome’, these terms NO LONGER fall within current diagnostic guidelines.

The OLD ICD-10, (ICD being short for: ‘International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Health Related Problems’, the most commonly-used diagnostic manual in the UK), listed Childhood Autism, Autistic Disorder, Atypical Autism, Asperger Syndrome & ‘Pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified’, as the main autistic categories. However this too is now out of date.

With the launch of the latest ICD-11 in summer 2018, only ‘Autism Spectrum Disorder‘ is stated, with varying sub-descriptions – see graphic. These are the terms that diagnosing clinicians should use.

(It’s possible that some may continue to use the older terms, until their own continued professional development has caught up with the new guidelines).

In America, within the DSM-5 diagnostic manual, clinicians are also advised to also use the broad term Autism Spectrum Disorder, but with a numerical note of severity, and / or the additions of ‘With or without accompanying intellectual / language impairment,’ dividing the ‘severities’ from 3 to 1. (e.g ‘Autism Spectrum Disorder level 1’ is seemingly akin to an Asperger’s-type diagnosis, under the ‘older’ system).


But what if you were diagnosed with an older term, e.g. Asperger’s – do you still keep that diagnosis? The answer is emphatically, yes. Autists identifying as having Asperger Syndrome often feel comfortable with their own diagnostic ‘label’, and the term ‘Aspie’ is widely used and liked (by many autists).

And WHY do resources like this one mention the phrase ‘Autism Spectrum Disorder’ instead of Autism Spectrum Condition or Neurology, which are obviously preferable? It is because anyone researching autism needs to use the correct terms to inform their searches, and currently, the diagnostic guidelines use ‘Disorder’. We may not like the term Disorder, and we may choose to use ‘Condition’ or ‘Neurology’ personally, but diagnostically and from a research and clinical point of view, ‘Disorder’ is used, and informs our research.

Finally, what about Hans Asperger’s links with the Nazis? Briefly, we advise reading author Steve Silberman’s ‘Neurotribes‘ book, for a well-written piece of autism back-history. (You can read an article here summarising the recent ‘Asperger’ revelations. “Asperger it seems was playing a very complicated game of appearing to be anti-Nazi, but meanwhile signing… death warrants,” Silberman has said.) Do #actuallyautistic individuals want a moniker associated with the Nazi regime? That’s an interesting debate for us to tackle at ‘’ another day!

A little disclaimer – here at we don’t claim to be experts about Autism; the information we post here is based purely on our own exposure and experiences.

You may also like: 

Them V Us – disparity in the autism spectrum condition ranks (ASD/ASC/Asperger’s)


Also published on Medium.