While hosting one of the longest-running comedy sketches shows in the world Saturday Night Live last week, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk claimed himself to be the first person with Asperger’s Syndrome to host the show. This angered many activists who believed that he should have used the term autism spectrum disorder to describe the condition rather than the outdated terminology.
Musk’s admission of being neuro-atypical was seen in a positive light by many, who thought this could help steer the conversation towards the difficulties faced by those with developmental disorders. He also got a lot of flak for using the term that is closely associated with the Nazi eugenics program.
Clinically speaking, Asperger’s Syndrome is characterized by compulsive behavior including fixed routines, lack of social skills, and developmental delays. Due to their similarities in manifestation, the syndrome was declassified and considered a part of the autism spectrum disorder. It stopped being an official term of diagnosis in 2013.
The disuse of the term is also because it is named after Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger who was a part of the Nazi eugenics program. He believed that those on the ‘favorable’ side of his autism scale could be taught to be useful to society due to their special abilities.
Those criticizing Elon Musk for using the term that the medical community no longer uses, also feared that it may further alienate those with the condition.
Click here to learn more about the correct autism terminology.