Special Announcement: US Autism name change


US Autism & Asperger Association (USAAA) is now the US Autism Association.

We're excited to re-introduce ourselves to you. As the US Autism Association, we are doubling down on our commitment to represent all in the autism community, regardless of diagnosis. Our new name reflects that commitment to inclusion. We welcome all people on the autism spectrum and their parents, family members, friends, teachers, health care team, and loved ones to be part of our community. Everyone deserves the opportunity to achieve their fullest potential.

Our new logo reflects our commitment to inclusion and diversity: the four colors in our logo represent multiple "colors" of the autism spectrum, and they fit together like pieces of a puzzle, the historic symbol for autism, the way that each member of the autism community has a unique part to play and fits together in the bigger picture as one.

While our name and logo have changed, our mission remains the same: to Provide the Opportunity for everyone living with Autism Spectrum Disorders to achieve their fullest potential, by enriching the autism community with education, training, accessible resources, and partnerships with local and national projects.

Here's why we're changing our name.

Recently, the US Autism Association and other leading organizations in the autism community have been partaking in important conversation regarding the use of the name "Asperger" in the language that we use. On July 13, 2018, we announced our decision to drop the word "Asperger" from the name of our organization and eliminate the word "Asperger" from our common usage.

Over the past several weeks, the term "Asperger" has quickly lost much of its relevance as a specific and accurate diagnostic term and as a neutral description for high-functioning members on the autism spectrum.

First, the term "Asperger's Syndrome" was dropped from the latest draft of The International Classification of Diseases, Eleventh Revision (ICD-11) by the World Health Organization. This follows the elimination of the term "Asperger's Syndrome" in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The use of the term "Asperger's Syndrome" has fallen out of regular usage in the medical community, which instead groups the diagnosis into "Autism Spectrum Disorder(s)."

Second, with the publication of Edith Sheffer's new book, "Asperger's Children: The Origins of Autism in Nazi Vienna," Sheffer reveals Hans Asperger to have had played a role in the Nazi's "child euthanasia programs," by transferring at least 44 children from his clinic to what Sheffer calls "killing centers." While questions remain of how Asperger's legacy will ultimately be judged, we are appalled and outraged by his role in the death of children who resembled our own children and loved ones. We, as well as others we have spoken to in the autism community, are choosing not to associate ourselves or those in our community any longer with the name "Asperger."

For more on Edith Sheffer's findings and the word "Asperger," read the following excerpt from the June 27, 2018 article from Mercury News:

As the title of Sheffer's book suggests, "Asperger's Children: The Origins of Autism in Nazi Vienna," she instead presents a dark history of a seemingly dedicated, mild-mannered physician who, according to recently unearthed records, was complicit in Nazi child euthanasia programs that were the regime's first program in mass extermination.

Similar findings about Asperger's Nazi ties were presented in a study published in April in the journal Molecular Autism by Herwig Czech, a historian at the Medical University of Vienna.

Both Sheffer and Czech show how Asperger, working at University of Vienna's Curative Education Clinic, actively contributed to efforts by the Third Reich to exterminate children with mental or behavioral defects. Under Nazi eugenics policies, these children were considered to be a threat to the gene pool and to Adolf Hitler's ideal of Volk, a socially cohesive, racially homogenous Aryan nation. Accounts say 5,000 to 10,000 children were killed in clinics between 1940-45 as part of the program.

For these reasons, to remain current and accurate in our language, we have made the decision to move our language toward the use of the all-encompassing term "Autism Spectrum Disorders."

Despite these changes to our name, during this transition, we reaffirm our organization's commitment to support everyone who is part of the autism community including those individuals currently diagnosed with "Asperger's Syndrome" and their loved ones. We also carry with this change a strong reminder that although the term "Asperger's Syndrome" may continue to gradually fall out of general usage, it is imperative that we continue to advocate for those who have been given the diagnosis of "Asperger's Syndrome" by asking the government and medical communities to ensure that:

1. people who have been given the diagnosis of "Asperger's Syndrome" are still eligible for services, opportunities, and legally required special support, and
2. ongoing research on "Asperger's Syndrome" remains funded.

The bottom line is that we have always represented and will always represent individuals who are diagnosed with ASD or were previously diagnosed under the ICD-10's guidelines, including:

Pervasive Developmental Disorders; Childhood autism; Autistic disorder; Infantile: autism, psychosis; Kanner syndrome: Excl.: autistic psychopathy; autistic psychopathy; Atypical autism: Atypical childhood psychosis, Mental retardation with autistic features; Rett syndrome; Other childhood disintegrative disorder: Dementia infantilis, Disintegrative psychosis, Heller syndrome, Symbiotic psychosis; Overactive disorder associated with mental retardation and stereotyped movements; Asperger syndrome; Other pervasive developmental disorders, Pervasive developmental disorder, unspecified;

and the DSM-IV's guidelines, including:

Autistic Disorder; Asperger's Disorder; Rett's Disorder; Childhood Disintegrative Disorder; Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (Including Atypical Autism).

We, at the US Autism Association, wish to thank all of you who have been with us since the beginning of 2005. We have made huge differences in the lives of so many people with our mission to Provide the Opportunity for everyone living with Autism Spectrum Disorders to achieve their fullest potential.

To learn more about ASD and the two established systems for identifying disorders, ICD-11 and DSM-5, click here.


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