Asperger Syndrome? Nope, Just a Nerdy Teenager

Because of current definition, Benjamin Nugent got a bogus diagnosis
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 1, 2012 12:20 PM CST
Normal social awkwardness can sometimes be misdiagnosed as something more serious.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Psychologists may soon narrow the definition of autism, which could reduce the number of people diagnosed with the disorder and related ones such as Asperger Syndrome. The move is controversial, but if you're looking for a compelling reason in favor, see Benjamin Nugent's essay in the New York Times today. He was diagnosed with Asperger's at age 17 because he met the criteria. Turns out, he was just an awkward teenage loner whose supposedly lifelong struggles with social interactions disappeared after college when he grew up a little.

Nugent wasn't just diagnosed, however. He appeared in a video in the 1990s called Understanding Asperger's, made by his psychologist mother and a colleague. The video aside, "my experience can’t be unique," he writes. "Under the rules in place today, any nerd, any withdrawn, bookish kid, can have Asperger syndrome." It's time to narrow the definition, before a school psychologist somewhere gives a "clumsy, lonely teenager a description of his mind that isn't true." Click for the full column.

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