Label this: The Importance of Diagnosis



I am often asked about ‘label’s’ and ‘diagnoses’.  Usually, I am asked certain questions not unlike the following:  Why get a diagnosis/label? How will a ‘label’ help me or my child?

First, the diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome is valuable information, for the school involved, the individual, their parents, family members and friends. In terms of the individual, knowledge and education helps the individual in terms of self-understanding, which is imperative. Most, if not all individuals on the Spectrum are aware that they are different from their peers from very early on and wonder why or what is different/wrong with them. Many individuals erroneously come to their own conclusions, usually unhelpful or untrue conclusions of themselves. In terms of school or University, it is important in terms of the guidance the person may need in some of the social and interpersonal aspects of his of her school life. This can be very important for those in their teen years.

Second, it is also important in terms of the individuals unique profile of abilities, strengths and weaknesses. Generally speaking, individuals with Asperger Syndrome are usually high average to genius intelligence and tend to (not always) have a profile of peaks and troughs in their sub-test scatter scores on intelligence tests, often with working memory and/or processing speed being their weakest abilities (even if only a relative weakness ( i.e. average). Many individuals have a significant split between their Verbal Reasoning and Perceptual Reasoning abilities, with their Full Scale Score unable to be interpreted.

Third, it is important for a child to be on an Individualized Program Plan (IEP) or an adult to have academic accommodations in place in the school years and/or University. Strategies to support individuals with learning difficulties, learning differences, fine and/or gross motor difficulties, sensory issues, time management, social overload and exhaustion, organization, and planning are crucial for success. 

Lastly, early intervention provides intervention, support and prevention of further issues that may have occurred in the teenage years. Interventions generally are provided, but not limited to the following areas: Theory of Mind and perspective taking, social and friendship skills, anger and anxiety/OCD management, emotion regulation, self-esteem and identity issues, depression and/or suicidal ideation, strengths and weaknesses profiling, sensory processing profiling and creation of a sensory coping kit, career counselling, strengths, gifts and talents profiling. Hopefully family members would learn to connect with each other and have more understanding, once they learn about Asperger Syndrome.

© Tania Marshall All rights reserved. Duplication in whole or part is explicitly forbidden. Thank you.


11 thoughts on “Label this: The Importance of Diagnosis

  1. Tania, this is something I’ve struggled with a long time with my daughter. She is now 16 years old and does not have an IEP at this time. At one point, I did have an IEP when I had uncooperative teachers (letting 2 weeks go by before telling me she had not turned in ANY homework) that were unwilling to help despite me speaking to them. Is there psychological support if there is an IEP in place and not just modifications? I can definitely see the advantages for her of putting one in place with the services you’ve listed – especially in regards to the social aspect, organization, but at the same time, life doesn’t come with an IEP. Work doesn’t come with an IEP. I guess I view it as a fine line between “support” and a “crutch” that won’t be there when they enter the work force. Thanks for the article, it’s given me a lot to think about.

    • Hi Kara. I have a daughter with AS and having a diagnosis and an IEP has been a life saver! She is successful in college because she has accommodations. She can get extra time for assignments and test-taking. She can take her tests at a testing center when the class has exams scheduled after her bedtime (so we don’t have to change her routine.) She is very high functioning, but the little extra help she gets is the difference between her staying in college and getting a career she wants (Forest Engineering) versus taking whatever she could get at minimum wage (parking cars at a dealership). She received accommodations because we had an IEP for her in grade school, which then also gave her accommodations in high school. Absolutely, get your daughter an IEP if she has any college aspirations. Another thing to consider is that if your daughter learns how to advocate for herself now, she will be better at doing it on the job. And yes, employers will also give accommodations. I think most people care about those around them and they are willing to work with someone’s ability/disability, particularly if they know how. Our kids have to learn how to tell people what they need so our kids aren’t shouldering 100% of the stress of making things work smoothly on a job or in school. Let other’s help shoulder the hardships.

  2. Bonjour! Juste pour te dire que je trouve ton blog vraiment sympa. Les artciles sont rédigés avec bcp de soins et sont la pluspart du temps très pertinents.. j’aimerais bien avoir la même inspiration 🙂 J’édite moi aussi un blog .. a bientôt, Julie

  3. Hi Tania,

    Great article! My son was diagnosed with Aspergers 2 years ago and it’s helped us both tremendously, at home and at school. I’m curious though about the usefulness of a diagnosis in an adult with suspected Aspergers. Having read your other articles, I’m certain that I too have Aspergers but I’m not sure whether to see my Dr about it or not. Your advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Many thanks,

  4. Is there any benefit to being diagnosed in adulthood (post-university years)? Especially if one is mostly coping with life? I’ve recently come to believe that I have Asperger’s, but don’t really have the time (and don’t want to spend the money) to be diagnosed.

    • Hi Fiona, there are many benefits to being diagnosed as an adult, EVEN if you are coping in life. Very briefly:
      1. Validation
      2. An explanation
      2. Self-acceptance
      3. Knowledge and Understanding
      4. Education about oneself and what careers to go into

  5. Hi,

    I had an awful time as an undergrad and only just got my degree. Now at 35, and after years of difficulty working – being harassed in a first job, developing social phobia as a result and further trouble then with first wanting then keeping work, and after some treatment for anxiety, now having trouble just getting a job interview based on such work history….

    Well, time is precious. I have found a course I want to do, but after reading the schedule, had visions of how wracked with constant anxiety I was as an undergrad. I could only do the course part time.

    I think I will get assessed for Aspergers. It is probably my best chance of gaining entry into the course, which is tough, as well as finding it easy enough to cope with all the contact hours.

    Sigh….. There is only so much time to figure out how you are different and how to best adapt.
    I hope that I do not get over looked because of communication difficulties –

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