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Elon Musk Reveals He Has Asperger's Syndrome, Which Is Part of Autism Spectrum Disorder, During SNL | What Is ASD?

Elon Musk Reveals He Has Asperger's Syndrome, Which Is Part of Autism Spectrum Disorder, During SNL | What Is ASD?

Elon Musk hosted Saturday Night Live recently and opened up about his condition. It is believed that this is the first time he spoke about it publicly.

One of the richest men on the face of the Earth - and if he has anything to do with it, he won't be on this planet - recently revealed that he has a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior. Elon Musk, 49, the founder, CEO, CTO, and chief designer of SpaceX; early stage investor, CEO, and product architect of Tesla, Inc.; hosted Saturday Night Live (SNL) recently. During his monologue, he revealed that he has Asperger's Syndrome. It is believed to be the first time that Musk has spoke about his condition, writes BBC.

In his opening speech, he pointed out how he doesn't have a lot of variation in his tone and that he's "the first person with Asperger's to host SNL" before joking that he's "at least the first to admit it," writes Health.com. However, he was incorrect on two fronts. Firstly, Dan Aykryod of Ghostbusters fame, who has spoken about the same diagnosis publicly, is the first person with the condition to host SNL, according to CNN. Secondly, and this is more important, there is no diagnosis as Asperger's anymore as it is considered part of the Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).



 

The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) had included Asperger's syndrome in 2013 under the umbrella term of ASD. "At least in the US and anywhere that uses the DSM-5, Asperger's is no longer an official diagnosis," Dr.Christopher Hanks, an internal medicine physician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center who treats autistic disorder, tells Health.

ASD is not a mental health illness. It is a group of neurological conditions that can make it hard for a person to use language and communicate. It can also cause repetitive or restrictive patterns. According to NINDS, one of the biggest symptoms of Asperger's syndrome is when a child is obsessive about their interest in a single object or topic. They might want to know everything possible about that topic and won't talk about anything else. There can be other symptoms as well. Repetitive routines, peculiarities in speech and language, socially and emotionally inappropriate behavior, inability to successfully interact with peers, problems with nonverbal communication, and clumsiness are other symptoms. Children with ASD can have developmental delays as well.



 

"The DSM describes autism spectrum disorder now as being 'mild, moderate, or severe,' although the criteria for distinguishing among these three levels is somewhat vague and has not yet been validated," Dr. David Mandell, ScD, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and Director of the Penn Center for Mental Health, tells Health.

He added that one of the reasons Asperger's is not a diagnosis anymore is because it was hard to differ from autism. "Even highly experienced and skilled clinicians were unable to agree on cases," Mandell says. "That is, clinicians were not reliable in differentiating between Asperger's and autism. Part of the reason for this is that the presentation of autistic people can change dramatically with age and over time."



 

Those who have ASD are also at risk of some mental health issues like anxiety, depression, ADHD, or OCD. And, it can be challenging to navigate the world when you are neurodivergent, who are people with a differently "wired" brain, writes Wake Forest University blog. A number of brain studies have shown that those with learning or thinking differences are neurodivergent. They are not disabled, a term rejected by sociologist Judy Singer in the 1990s.



 

The term neurodiversity is used not just for autism but for everyone with other neurological conditions as well. For instance, people with dyslexia have a harder time reading or taking notes. It doesn't mean that anything is "wrong" with them, just that they are different.

References:

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-57045770

https://edition.cnn.com/2021/05/09/opinions/elon-musk-snl-mistake-obeidallah/index.html

https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Asperger-Syndrome-Information-Page

https://www.health.com/condition/autism/is-aspergers-still-a-diagnosis

https://counseling.online.wfu.edu/blog/what-is-neurodiversity/

Cover image source: Getty Images | Photo by Britta Pedersen

Disclaimer : This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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