What is the New Term for Aspergers?

Asperger's syndrome was a term used to describe a developmental disorder that affects communication and social interaction. However, this term is no longer in use since it was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 2013.

reuben kesherim
Ruben Kesherim
December 29, 2023

What is the New Term for Aspergers?

Understanding Asperger's Syndrome

To comprehend the changes in terminology surrounding Asperger's Syndrome, it's essential to first understand what this condition entails.

Asperger's Syndrome is a neurodevelopmental disorder that was initially identified by Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger in the 1940s. It is characterized by difficulties in social interaction, restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior, and specific interests or hobbies.

What is Asperger's Syndrome?

Asperger's Syndrome is a developmental disorder that falls within the autism spectrum. Individuals with Asperger's Syndrome often exhibit average or above-average intelligence and language development. However, they may struggle with social interactions, communication, and understanding social cues. They may have intense interests in specific subjects or topics and may engage in repetitive behaviors or routines.

Characteristics and Challenges

People with Asperger's Syndrome may present a range of characteristics and face various challenges in their daily lives. Some common characteristics include:

  • Difficulty interpreting nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions and body language.
  • Struggles with understanding and appropriately responding to social norms and expectations.
  • Strong preference for routine and resistance to change.
  • Highly focused interests in specific topics or subjects.
  • Challenges with starting or maintaining conversations, and difficulty with reciprocal communication.
  • Sensory sensitivities or aversions to certain sounds, textures, or light.

These characteristics can present challenges in various aspects of life, including education, employment, and social relationships. However, it's important to note that individuals with Asperger's Syndrome also possess unique strengths such as attention to detail, exceptional memory, and analytical thinking.

Understanding these updates will help you navigate the evolving landscape and better support individuals with this condition.

2 girls in blue dress standing on brown field during daytime

Changes in Terminology

Over the years, there have been significant changes in the terminology used to describe certain conditions within the autism spectrum. One such change involves the renaming of Asperger's Syndrome. Understanding the reasons behind this change can help provide clarity and promote better understanding.

The Renaming of Asperger's Syndrome

Asperger's Syndrome, a condition first described by Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger in the 1940s, was officially recognized as a distinct diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). However, in the fifth edition of the DSM (DSM-5), released in 2013, Asperger's Syndrome was no longer listed as a separate diagnosis.

The decision to remove Asperger's Syndrome as a standalone diagnosis was based on a reclassification of autism spectrum disorders. The APA aimed to create a more comprehensive and unified diagnostic framework that reflected the latest research and clinical understanding of autism. As a result, the individual diagnostic labels such as Asperger's Syndrome were consolidated under the broader umbrella term of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Reasons for the Change

The reclassification of Asperger's Syndrome into ASD was driven by several reasons. One primary consideration was the need for consistency and clarity in diagnosing and understanding autism spectrum disorders.

Prior to the revision, there were inconsistencies in the criteria used to diagnose Asperger's Syndrome, leading to variability in diagnosis and potential confusion among clinicians and individuals seeking a diagnosis.

By consolidating these various conditions under the term Autism Spectrum Disorder, the APA aimed to provide a more unified approach to diagnosis, which would enhance consistency and accuracy in identifying individuals with autism.

This change also aligned with the shift toward understanding autism as a spectrum of conditions with shared characteristics and varying degrees of severity, rather than distinct and separate disorders.

Additionally, the reclassification aimed to reduce the stigma associated with specific diagnostic labels and promote a more inclusive and holistic understanding of autism. The new diagnostic criteria outlined in the DSM-5 emphasize the presence of social communication difficulties and restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, allowing for a more comprehensive assessment of individuals on the autism spectrum.

Understanding the changes in terminology associated with Asperger's Syndrome is essential for individuals, families, and professionals involved in the autism community. By embracing the updated terminology and the broader concept of Autism Spectrum Disorder, we can foster greater understanding, support, and resources for individuals with autism and their families.

The Current Term

In recent years, there have been changes in the terminology used to describe certain conditions on the autism spectrum, including Asperger's Syndrome. The new term for Asperger's Syndrome reflects a shift in how these conditions are classified and understood. Let's explore the new term and the criteria outlined in the DSM-5, the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

The New Term for Asperger's Syndrome

The new term for Asperger's Syndrome is "Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Level 1, without accompanying intellectual or language impairment." This change came about with the release of the DSM-5 in 2013. The DSM-5 sought to streamline the diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorders, including Asperger's Syndrome, under the umbrella term of ASD.

By transitioning to the new term, the aim was to create a more comprehensive and cohesive understanding of autism spectrum disorders. It is important to note that individuals who were previously diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome still fall within the autism spectrum and receive the support and resources available to individuals with ASD.

Exploring the DSM-5 Criteria

The DSM-5 outlines specific criteria for diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), including Level 1 ASD without accompanying intellectual or language impairment. To receive this diagnosis, an individual must meet the following criteria:

  1. Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction:
  • Challenges in social-emotional reciprocity, such as difficulty initiating or maintaining conversations.
  • Deficits in nonverbal communicative behaviors, such as eye contact, facial expressions, and body language.
  • Difficulties in developing and maintaining relationships appropriate to developmental level.
  1. Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities:
  • Stereotyped or repetitive motor movements, speech, or use of objects.
  • Insistence on sameness, inflexibility with routines, or ritualized patterns of behavior.
  • Highly restricted interests that are abnormal in intensity or focus.
  • Hyper- or hypo-reactivity to sensory input or unusual interest in sensory aspects of the environment.
  1. Symptoms must be present in the early developmental period:
  • Symptoms may be recognized in early childhood, but may not fully manifest until social demands exceed limited capacities.
  1. Symptoms cause clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

It's important to consult with a qualified healthcare professional or specialist who can assess an individual's symptoms and provide an accurate diagnosis based on the DSM-5 criteria.

Understanding the new term and the criteria outlined in the DSM-5 can help individuals, parents, and caregivers navigate the diagnostic process and access appropriate support and resources. By staying informed and aware, we can continue to advocate for the inclusion and understanding of individuals on the autism spectrum.

Embracing the New Terminology

With the renaming of Asperger's Syndrome, it's important to understand and embrace the new terminology that is now used to describe this condition. Although the change may initially be met with uncertainty, there are several benefits to adopting the new term, along with support and resources available to assist individuals and families.

Benefits of the New Term

The new term currently used to describe what was previously known as Asperger's Syndrome is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This change was made to reflect the understanding that Asperger's Syndrome falls within the broader spectrum of autism. Embracing the new term brings several benefits:

  1. Enhanced clarity and consistency: The new term, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), provides a clearer understanding of the condition's place within the wider spectrum of autism. This promotes consistency in diagnosis and treatment approaches, allowing for better communication and collaboration among healthcare professionals, educators, and caregivers.
  2. Improved access to services and support: The transition to the new terminology ensures that individuals with Asperger's Syndrome can access the necessary services and support available for autism spectrum disorders. This includes interventions, therapies, and educational resources that are tailored to meet the specific needs of individuals with ASD.
  3. Broader recognition and understanding: The new term, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is more widely recognized and understood by the general public. This increased awareness helps reduce stigma and promotes a greater understanding of the challenges faced by individuals on the autism spectrum, including those who were previously diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome.

Support and Resources Available

For individuals and families navigating the transition to the new terminology, various support and resources are available. These can help provide guidance, information, and community connections:

  1. Medical and educational professionals: Consult with medical professionals, such as pediatricians, psychologists, or psychiatrists, who specialize in autism spectrum disorders. They can provide valuable insights, guidance, and recommendations tailored to the specific needs of individuals with ASD.
  2. Autism support organizations: Reach out to autism support organizations, such as the Autism Society or Autism Speaks, which offer resources, online communities, and local support groups. These organizations can provide a wealth of information and connect you with others who have similar experiences.
  3. Educational resources: Explore books, articles, and websites that provide information on autism spectrum disorders. Websites like TotalCareABA.com offer valuable resources on the renaming of Asperger's Syndrome to Autism Spectrum Disorder.
  4. Parent support groups: Connect with local or online support groups specifically designed for parents of individuals with autism. These groups can provide a supportive environment where you can share experiences, seek advice, and find comfort in knowing you are not alone.

Remember, the transition to the new terminology may take time, and it's important to be patient with yourself and others. By embracing the new term, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and utilizing the available support and resources, individuals and families can navigate this change with confidence and ensure that individuals with ASD receive the necessary care and support they deserve.

Moving Forward

As the understanding of autism spectrum disorders continues to evolve, advocacy and awareness play crucial roles in ensuring the well-being and inclusion of individuals with these conditions. Moving forward, it is important to focus on advocacy and awareness efforts to create a more inclusive and understanding society.

Advocacy and Awareness

Advocacy for individuals with autism, including those who were previously diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, is essential in promoting equal access to education, employment, healthcare, and other opportunities. Advocacy efforts can involve raising awareness about the challenges faced by individuals on the autism spectrum, as well as advocating for policies and services that support their needs.

By actively engaging in advocacy, parents, caregivers, and individuals with autism can work towards fostering understanding and acceptance within their communities. This can include participating in support groups, joining advocacy organizations, and sharing personal experiences to help educate others about the unique strengths and challenges of individuals with autism.

Ensuring Inclusion and Understanding

In addition to advocacy, ensuring inclusion and understanding is crucial for individuals with autism. This involves creating environments that embrace neurodiversity and accommodate the unique needs of individuals on the spectrum.

Educational institutions, workplaces, and community organizations can play a vital role in promoting inclusion by implementing inclusive practices and providing necessary accommodations. This may include training staff on autism awareness, creating sensory-friendly spaces, and fostering a culture of acceptance and understanding.

It is also important to provide resources and support for individuals and families affected by autism. This can involve connecting with local support organizations, accessing therapy services, and staying informed about the latest research and developments in the field.

By advocating for the rights and needs of individuals with autism and promoting inclusion and understanding, we can create a society that celebrates diversity and provides equal opportunities for everyone, regardless of their neurological differences. It is through these collective efforts that we can continue to move forward and create a more inclusive and supportive world for individuals with autism.


Is Asperger's syndrome still a valid diagnosis?

No, Asperger's syndrome is no longer considered a separate disorder from autism. It is now included under the umbrella term of autism spectrum disorder level 1.

What are some common characteristics of individuals with autism spectrum disorder level 1?

Individuals with autism spectrum disorder level 1 may have difficulties with social communication, such as understanding nonverbal cues or maintaining eye contact. They may also have restricted interests and repetitive behaviors.

Can individuals with autism spectrum disorder level 1 live independently?

Yes, many individuals with autism spectrum disorder level 1 are able to live independently and lead successful lives with appropriate support and accommodations. However, some may require more extensive support than others.

How can I support someone with autism spectrum disorder level 1?

Some ways to support someone with autism spectrum disorder level 1 include being patient and understanding, using clear and direct language, providing structure and routine, and avoiding sensory overload. It is also important to recognize and appreciate their strengths and unique perspectives.


In conclusion, Asperger's syndrome is no longer used as a diagnostic term, and individuals who would have previously been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome are now considered to have level 1 autism. It is important to note that the change in terminology does not change the characteristics of the disorder, and individuals with level 1 autism still require support and understanding.