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Dev Psychopathol. 2000 Summer;12(3):489-500.

Is asperger syndrome/high-functioning autism necessarily a disability?

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Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge, UK.


This article considers whether Asperger syndrome (AS) or high-functioning autism (HFA) necessarily leads to disability or whether AS/HFA simply leads to "difference." It concludes that the term "difference" in relation to AS/ HFA is a more neutral, value-free, and fairer description than terms such as "impairment," "deficiency," or "disability"; that the term "disability" only applies to the lower functioning cases of autism; but that the term "disability" may need to be retained for ASIHFA as long as the legal framework provides financial and other support only for individuals with a disability. Two models are summarized which attempt to define in what way individuals with AS/HFA are "different": the central coherence model, and the folk psychology-folk physics model. The challenge for research is to test the value of such models and to precisely characterize the differences in cognitive style.

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