The only Clinical difference between Autism and Asperger’s is speech delay around speech milestones and that does not necessarily mean Mutism or Selective Mutism, it could literally mean delayed part speech.
The two are inseparable past that point, because essentially they are the same thing. There is no identifiable difference between an Adult diagnosed as Asperger’s and an adult with a diagnosis of High Functioning Autism.
Hitler’s sister’s Fiancée, Erwin Jekelius, ran a special hospital, Am Spiegelgrund Children’s Clinic. The remainder of the children were sent there. When the Allies liberated the Hospital at the end of the war, all that remained of them were lots of brains, in jars.
The point here is that Asperger, among others who were making similar realisations around the world at the same time, found that the children under his care ranged wildly in their day to day abilities depending on the situations they found themselves in. It is only when people like Leo Kanner, with his narrowly defined range of what made up an Autistic person came to more public knowledge and then those findings in turn (already working on a false premise), were built upon, were the ideas of a spectrum and Functioning labels born.
Autism is Autism, it’s the same for every Autistic person. There are no degrees of Autism, one person is not more or less severe than another. Certain people are able to have better support structures and coping strategies than others, the underlying Autism is the same. It just affects different people differently, often with a co-morbid condition exacerbating the problem. A learning difficulty will often get someone a diagnosis of Low-Function Autism, when in fact, they aren’t a Low Functioning Autistic. They are an Autistic who happens to have a Learning Disability.
Do you see the subtle difference there?
It may not seem much of one to you, but to the Autistic community it is a massive difference. There is a narrative about Autism which is distinctly negative. Using ineffective labels that effectively blame Autism for some sort of deemed deficit, just perpetuate that negative narrative.
I was at a conference recently where an Autistic man, diagnosed a year ago, introduced himself as High Functioning. He then went on to tell his life story which was the typical tale of depression, isolation, career going well until changes, suicide attempts, burnout etc.
I spoke next and I asked why, after all that, he considered himself High Functioning, when clearly he hadn’t been functioning in society at all.
He said “That’s what I was diagnosed as”
There is a clear lack of understanding of what Autism is and how society harms us as Autistic people.
It’s often argued that a separation of levels helps Professionals identify the support needs of an individual, which is really a fallacy, a technicality at best. Any patient should be identified by their individual descriptors, a thousand Autistic people in one room would have a thousand different needs, a level of Autism isn’t going to help anyone in that situation.