Larry Welkowitz's Radio Weblog
Discussing Asperger's Disorder and other Psychology topics

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Thursday, April 04, 2002

Intersex, dichotomous thinking, and Asperger's

We had an interesting speaker at the college yesterday who is a leading advocate for "intersex" individuals (those with genital abnormalities).  She argued that the medical establishment has wronged these folks by advocating surgery to correct these abnormalities (e.g., cutting out an enlarged clitoris).  Doctors, she claimed, wish to turn these sexually ambiguous individuals in to either males or females via medical intervention.  Her point was that society needs to tolerate more ambigious views of gender.

This made me think of this need to classify individuals as either "having autism" or "not having autism" (or Asperger's).  We dichotomize for many reasons, one being the need for the psychiatric community to diagnose, and eventually, treat individuals with these problems.  But in the end, it all becomes a bit silly...what does it mean to "just barely have Asperger's" or to "almost have Asperger's" or to "really have Asperger's," and WHO DECIDES where the line is to be drawn?

One path is to simply place someone "on the Autism Spectrum" and then decide what the "degree of interference" with daily living is:  The greater the interference, the more likely it is that we will intervene.

3:21:46 PM    comment []

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