Well yes Asperger’s is a form of autism, I tend not to use the term because according to the official diagnostic criteria all it adds to the information that someone is on the autism spectrum is that they did not have a “significant speech delay”. However many people with an Asperger’s diagnosis are very attached to the term – one reason might be that it is generally believed that people with Asperger’s Syndrome are of average or above average intelligence.
Does this make Asperger’s Syndrome mild autism? Not really. Uta Frith wrote that Asperger’s Syndrome might best be regarded not as a “a very mild form of deficit” but as “compensatory learning in the presence of a severe deficit”[i].
The woman in the food co-op was keen to tell more about her friends son, he had been bullied at school, and then at work, he lived alone in a flat because although he would have loved to have got married he had never found a partner. His parents had to ensure that his flat was kept clean otherwise – well - there were dirty dishes and clothes everywhere and the bills weren’t paid. His parents were worried what would happen to him as they and he aged. This does not sound like a mild condition to me- it sounds like a serious condition. But perhaps it is a serious condition that could be responsive to understanding and acceptance. For this to happen we need a cultural change that includes a massive increase in the knowledge about and understanding of autism. I hope you will help spread this awareness. One suggestion is printing out taking the NAS posters from links below and taking them to your GP’s surgery , another is persuading health and social care workers to participate in autism awareness training.
[i] Frith U. (1991). Asperger and his syndrome. In: Frith U Autism and Asperger Syndrome. Cambridge University Press.