Aspergers' defence will no longer work in court

Hackers hoping to avoid extradition to the US by claiming that they are suffering from Aspergers’ syndrome had better find a new defence, sharpish, because quacks in the US have decided that the mental illness, suffered by hacker Gary McKinnon who was looking for evidence of UFOs, does not really exist.

Instead it will be given a scientific-sounding diagnosis called DMDD. The revisions come in the first major rewrite in nearly 20 years of the diagnostic guide used by US psychiatrists.

According to Medical Express, the manual is important for the insurance industry in deciding what treatment to pay for, and it helps schools decide how to allot special education.

Dr. David Kupfer, who chaired the task force in charge of revising the manual, said that one of the most hotly argued changes was how to define the various ranges of autism.

Some advocates opposed the idea of dropping the specific diagnosis for Asperger’s. People with that disorder often have high intelligence and vast knowledge on narrow subjects but lack social skills. Asperger’s families opposed any change, fearing their kids would lose a diagnosis and no longer be eligible for special services.

The new manual adds the term “autism spectrum disorder” and Asperger’s disorder will be dropped and incorporated under that umbrella diagnosis.

Catherine Lord, an autism expert at Weill Cornell Medical College insists that anyone who met criteria for Asperger’s in the old manual would be included in the new diagnosis. They just can’t use the term in a court case.