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—The great Christian Weston Chandler, who obviously knows more about the relation between Asperger syndrome and autism than actual scientists and psychiatrists who study it.
Chris has an extremely warped and inconsistent view of Asperger syndrome. He varies between outright denying that it is part of the autism spectrum, to idiotically confusing it with Alzheimer's Disease. He also believes people with Asperger's are "stealing the limelight from us autistics." Unlike his issues with racial minorities and homosexuals, Chris has never attempted to ameliorate or otherwise compromise his statements about Asperger's (with the exception of one half-hearted attempt which mostly ignores the issue at hand) for the sake of good PR, suggesting that it is his most strongly held prejudice.
Asperger syndrome is a social disorder that is considered to fall within the autism spectrum. Its symptoms are similar to those seen in high-functioning autism cases like Chris (although, unlike him, people with Asperger syndrome are generally marked by above-average intelligence). Some medical journals have completely removed Asperger's Syndrome from the list of conditions, instead considering it to simply be an enhanced version of HFA.
Because many laypersons regard Asperger's and HFA to be essentially interchangeable and identical, and because the slang term "Aspie" (short for "Asperger's", obviously) is often used to describe anyone with a disorder along the autism spectrum, newcomers to the Chris-chan phenomenon sometimes assume that he has and/or claims to have Asperger's. A few people even jump to the conclusion that, like many people who claim to have Asperger's, Chris is self-diagnosed.
However, Chris is easily offended by the suggestion that Asperger syndrome is even remotely similar to autism.
Chris on Asperger's
For some time, Chris referred to Asperger's as a disorder that affects the memory: on IRC, in his online Autism Quiz, in the Sonichu #1 Official Videobook, and in his Mailbag on CWCipedia, among other places. It appeared as if Chris was confusing Asperger's with Alzheimer's disease, an easy enough mistake for someone as stupid as he is to make.
Not long after Chris began answering the Mailbag, Asperger's became a recurring topic in the column. Numerous e-mails doggedly attempted to correct his misconceptions, while in his replies Chris became much more defensive and much less consistent in his arguments about why Asperger's is so different from autism. Eventually, he decided to settle the issue with a spectacularly butthurt essay, revealing the real reason Asperger's "grinds his gears."
—Chris, claiming that people with Asperger's are out to steal his autistic thunder, because they definitely want to suffer through a life of crippling social ignorance just to piss off an overweight manbaby.
In short, Chris doesn't understand what differences between his condition and Asperger's syndrome may or may not exist, and more to the point, he doesn't care. He simply feels that people with Asperger's are receiving some measure of the attention and sympathy that he isn't receiving. Naturally, tard rage ensues. In Mailbag 19 he even admits that the first thing he thinks of when he hears the term Asperger's is "Competing Retards".
As per his adamance that high-functioning autism and Asperger's are completely unrelated, Chris also point-blank refuses to acknowledge scientific research that contradicts his statements of so-called fact; indeed, he eventually began totally ignoring any Mailbag entries that included references to such papers. In a private e-mail to Vivian Gee from January 2010, he delivered an interesting spin on his feelings regarding the validity of that research:
—Chris, to Vivian, 15 January 2010.
Chris's belief that he is somehow representing his fellow autistics in some sort of tribal conflict against people with Asperger's is entertaining on a couple of levels. For one thing, any such rivalry is nothing but a figment of his overactive imagination, not shared by most people on the autistic spectrum. For another, people on all ends of the spectrum who've been exposed to Chris universally regard him as a revolting embarrassment to other people with the same condition.
He's also just kind of bothered by the fact that it sounds kind of like "ass burgers":
—Chris, in an e-mail to Jackie.
Chris has yet to realise that the burgers he usually shoves down his throat are often made of minced rump steak, or 'ass burgers', if you will.
Chris versus Autism Awareness Month
- Main article: Autism Awareness E-mails
In April 2010, Chris uploaded his own version of a web ad for Autism Awareness Month to the CWCipedia. It featured another short rant in which he once again stated his belief that Asperger's has nothing to do with autism, and thus shouldn't receive any extra awareness.
This led a well-meaning volunteer worker to write him and try to correct his misconceptions. She didn't succeed, but their conversation does reveal Chris making some bizarrely contradictory statements, even by his standards. Among other things, he says that the notion of a total disconnect between Asperger's and autism is entirely his own invention, and nobody else led him to that conclusion...but that doesn't stop it from being an indisputable fact.
—Chris, defining reality according to his whim as usual.
Real differences between Asperger's and autism
According to Chris, having Asperger's is NOTHING LIKE AUTISM; GET IT THROUGH YOUR DANG, DIRTY SKULLS!!! Of course, we don't have to take Chris's word for it and we would be clinically insane if we did. People that are far more qualified than him have done some research on the matter and the results may be considered not entirely surprising.
Spoiler: Chris couldn't be more wrong if he tried. Seriously.
| There has been research comparing the cognitive profile of adolescents with autism and Asperger's syndrome. The studies have examined the cognitive profile of what may becalled 'High Functioning Autism', that is children with a diagnosis of autism with an Intelligence Quotient in the normal range, i.e. above 70. The term High Functioning Autism has been used in the past to describe children who had the classic signs of autism in early childhood but as they developed, formal testing of their cognitive skills indicated a greater degree of intellectual ability with greater social and adaptive behavior skills than are usual with children with autism. Their clinical outcome was better than expected. The cognitive abilities of this group of children were then compared to the cognitive profile of children with Asperger's syndrome, who did not have a history of early cognitive or language delay. The results of the research has not established a distinct and consistent profile for each group. It was found that only a minority of each diagnostic group showed a characteristic profile.
Clinical experience and research has confirmed that in terms of the child's behavioral profile, children and adults with High Functioning Autism and Asperger's syndrome have a very similar presentation. Both groups benefit from the same behavioral treatment programs. The recommendations from clinicians and academics for treatment for both High Functioning Autism and Asperger's syndrome are the same. Clinicians have noted that as the clinical picture of Pervasive Developmental Disorders or Autistic Spectrum Disorders changes over time, a child may receive a diagnosis of severe autism or High Functioning Autism at one point in their developmental history and Asperger's syndrome at a later stage.
In short, the research and clinical experience would suggest that there is no clear evidence that they are different disorders. Their similarities are greater than their differences.
Perhaps the leading irony of Chris's crusade against Asperger's is that he probably has Asperger's himself. The only real difference between a diagnosis of "high-functioning autism" and "Asperger's" is the time at which the diagnosis was made. Asperger syndrome was first added to the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual in 1994, and it wasn't until the 2000s that it gained substantial recognition among professionals. Chris happens to have made "high-functioning autism" a cornerstone of his identity because that's the diagnosis he received as a child in the late 1980s. If he'd been born two decades later, though, it is quite likely he'd have wound up diagnosed with the Asperger's label he so fiercely detests. In which case, that article he wrote would probably be ranting about the autistics trying to steal his Aspie thunder.
Additionally, as of early 2010, the American Psychological Association has suggested no longer referring to Asperger's syndrome under the DSM-5, due for publication in 2013. Instead, what are now referred to as Asperger's syndrome, autism, and PDD-NOS — already widely understood to be related conditions — will be referred to as just autism spectrum disorders, further cementing the connection between the two.