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"Developmentally Disordered" with "Atypical Autism"

I was diagnosed with atypical autism literally just two weeks ago. According to the psychologist who evaluated me, I really have Asperger's Syndrome, but she said that since the DSM has removed Asperger's from its diagnoses, she gave me a diagnosis of "atypical autism," as I lacked one of the necessary symptoms for typical autism, but I had 3 additional symptoms that were not necessary for the diagnosis of typical autism.

Now that I look up "atypical autism" on the internet, "a pervasive developmental disorder," it makes it sound like my brain functions at the level of a first-grader. Is autism really a "developmental" disorder? Or is it just "atypical autism" that is a developmental disorder?

I don't feel "developmentally disordered." I do feel "socially disordered," if they want to call me that, but my brain does not feel "developmentally disordered." That almost seems like a pejorative label. In fact, the psychologist told me that I performed at above-average levels in several of the cognitive tests she gave me. And the most severe and problematic symptom I have is that I receive too much external data to process in my brain. In other words, I perceive much more of what is going on around me than regular people do, according to the psychologist; how does that make me "developmentally disordered?" Shouldn't you at least be seen as "developmentally ordered" if you can see and perceive more than other people?


Autism is considered a developmental disorder because, as I understand it, it's something you're born with that emerges through your developmental period. It doesn't mean you are disordered in a projective sense. The DSM labels anything not typical a disorder, but from a neurodiversity lense, autism is just a different type of neurology/brain wiring. I'm sorry you feel bad looking at the diagnosis. Maybe the person who assessed you would talk some more with you about what it means and doesn't mean.
I see where you're coming from. Having a developmental disorder isn't a negative or inferior thing. :) Autism is classified as a neurodevelopmental disorder, specifically. So is ADHD. And Intellectual Developmental Disability. Etc. Different people are comfortable with different descriptors, so you may prefer another term like neurodivergent or neurodiverse. Or you may choose not to label yourself. In the DSM-5, Autism Spectrum Disorder encompasses classic autism, pervasive developmental disorder not-otherwise-specified (AKA, atypical autism), and Asperger's Syndrome. It's not that Asperger's Syndrome doesn't exist anymore, it's just that the label for it has changed diagnostically. Whatever term you end up choosing for yourself, I hope it's one that feels empowering to you and that well describes your strengths and inner experience. :)
I personally like referring to myself as autistic, neurodivergent / neurodiverse, or as having Asperger's Syndrome or atypical autism. I like the empowerment they provided me through describing my experience and showing me why I felt so different all this time. Since I lived knowing I'm blind my whole life, however, I have all sorts of mixed emotions and trauma with calling myself blind, but I am learning to reclaim the word and embrace myself as such :)

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