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Families of Adults Affected

by Asperger's Syndrome

Response to Critics re OTRS/CP

In medicine, the basis for formalizing a syndrome is to identify a constellation of symptoms that occur together in large numbers of individuals under similar circumstances. This is the case for (OTRS/CP) Ongoing Traumatic Relationship Syndrome, which was originally popularized as “Cassandra phenomenon.”

Why would individuals who do not suffer from a diagnosis argue vehemently to block recognition of the diagnosis and its treatment? Most likely, the underlying concern is that individuals with AS fear that NT (neurotypical) family members, who experience distress and mental health injury, might have a legitimate basis for a lawsuit. As they may realize, that is not a valid reason for excluding recognition of a diagnostic syndrome.

Some spokespersons representing individuals with AS have raised concerns that inclusion of OTRS/CP in the DSM would somehow marginalize individuals with AS. This is neither likely nor relevant, in that OTRS is a no-fault diagnosis, and it is not a basis for excluding a true diagnosis. If anything, it would marginalize the neurotypical patient, not the individual with AS. Not all suffering requires a victimizer. If individuals with OTRS/CP suffer, it does not incriminate someone else. By addressing OTRS/CP as a form of psycho trauma that does not require a victimizer, it addresses the perceptions of the individual who is distressed by a situation that they can no longer manage. There is no need to label any other individual. The diagnosis is focused on identifying means for the patient to cope. In many cases, the patient perceives their experiences as being a victim of bullying.

Others have expressed concerns that identifying such a syndrome are unnecessary because families/spouses can take care of their own problems with tolerance, acceptance, patience and inclusiveness.

If a couple can resolve the issues through non-professional means, then the diagnosis may not be necessary; but it is necessary when patients have exhausted such approaches and now seek professional assistance.

OTRS/CP allows professional help for those individuals who have exhausted other means. A formal designation will provide recognition for professionals, allowing them to grasp the group nature of the patient’s concerns, rather than dismiss them to fend for themselves, returning them to the source of their distress.

OTRS/CP needs to be incorporated in the DSM-5, because most professionals did not receive any training with respect to AS and neurotypical relationships, given its very recent recognition. We also agree that there is no need to blame or stigmatize any individuals for having neurological differences. Families can deal cooperatively with the issues they encounter, utilizing outside help if need be, without blaming and stigmatizing the neurologically different individual.

Excerpt from “Counseling for Asperger Couples”


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