'Coming Out' with Autism: Identity in People with an Asperger's Diagnosis After DSM-5

J Autism Dev Disord. 2020 Feb;50(2):592-602. doi: 10.1007/s10803-019-04294-5.


Asperger's Syndrome was introduced as a separate diagnostic category in the DSM-4 (1994). Its subsequent absorption into autism spectrum disorder in the DSM-5 (2013) led to vigorous debate and concerns about the loss of the unique Asperger's identity. Existing research has identified that adults previously diagnosed with Asperger's have expressed a diverse range of opinions regarding the DSM-5 changes. This Australian study explored the role of disability identity development in responses to the change through semi-structured interviews with 12 adults diagnosed with Asperger's under the DSM-4. Their different views did not appear to be a function of demographic variables; a connection was identified between participants' views of the change and differing stages of integration with the Asperger's and/or autism identities.

Keywords: Asperger’s; DSM-5; Diagnostic category; Identity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Asperger Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Asperger Syndrome / psychology*
  • Australia
  • Autistic Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Autistic Disorder / psychology*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Self Concept*
  • Young Adult