Aspie versus Autie can go very wrong indeed.

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A topic which comes up from time to time is around the difference between “Aspergers” or “ASD”. Diagnostically the difference is very small (age of speech development), however in other ways the difference is much more pronounced.

In the UK Aspergers support is generally managed by the Mental Health team. But ASD (or ASC) is managed by the learning disability or a dedicated autism team.

In some areas the difference between the two is huge. Where the mental health team can offer perhaps a weekly “counselling” service, the learning disabiliity / autism team can access support workers, occupational therepists and other types of pratical day to day support.

Identity is a difficult subject. I have met many people who identity as “aspie” who don’t wish to identity or associate themselves with “autism” things. I used to be this way myself.

This can make it very hard to access suitable support. I’ve met a number of people who where taken down the mental health route because they identified as aspie when what they needed was some help with practical things like cooking and organisation.

For some it took 10 years of inappropriate “treatment” for “mental health disorders” they didn’t have before someone with actual autism knowledge spotted the mix up and appropriate support was put in place.

This is somewhat on purpose due to the way in which funding is managed. The Autism Act aimed to fix this, but it’s not been usefully adopted in many places hence the difference still occurs.

This is why i say to people to be careful with identitying as “aspie”. It may result in support you have a legal right to not being offered.

There are wider points about public perception / confusion and other topics, but in the UK the most impactful reason is how support is split up.


Spaced Out & Smiling is about exploring the fun side of Autism, and trying to understand what it means to be Autistically Happy.

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