Health

Saturday 12 July 2014

Parents 'in limbo' after redefining of Asperger's

Sean Leaney (20), who was diagnosed with Asperger's

IT'S the "eccentric" condition that many believe afflicted WB Yeats, Samuel Beckett and Albert Einstein.

But now the term Asperger's Syndrome, a mild form of autism, has been dropped, leaving around 15,000 people in Ireland in limbo. Many parents now fear their children will not get the help they need.

This is because the most widely used diagnostic bible by psychiatrists worldwide when assessing children with possible symptoms of autism (the DSM-5) was revised in May and no longer recognises Asperger's as a separate category.

Dr Carmel O'Sullivan, head of the School of Education in Trinity College, said it now came under an umbrella diagnosis of "autism spectrum disorder". She has organised an international conference in Trinity College Dublin on Friday and Saturday, questioning the changes.

"Children with Asperger's have problems with social interaction and behaviour which can pose serious challenges for them functioning in society," she said.

Sean Leaney, from Glasnevin, Dublin, was diagnosed with Asperger's when he was nine and is now studying chemical and pharma science in Dublin City University. It was thanks to his diagnosis that Sean got a special-needs assistant at Scoil Chaitriona to assist his schooling.

Sean believes there is a very low awareness among people about the dropping of Asperger's and hopes the conference, involving leading experts from the US, will highlight the issue.

More details on the conference are available at (01) 87800297 or challengingdsm5.org.

Irish Independent

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