It's not just a question of real/unreal instantiation. Any coherent description of combined characteristics is a 'real' combination you can give a name to, and it may have real, observable instantiations, but that isn't sufficient to make it a valid medical/psychiatric category. So the validity of Asperger's as a syndrome has less to do with how many people do or don't exhibit its characteristics than with whether those characteristics are suitable for medicalisation, or whether Asperger's as a medical category deserves to go the way of female hysteria. You can't determine that by sheer observation; it involves a normative conception of psychiatric wellbeing.
BTW - All: I can assure you that Asberger's Syndrome is real. That fact does not make me happy. In fact, it makes me want to cry. But crying about it does not make it better. Therefore: Asberger's Syndrome is an unfortunate fact of life that we must try to make the best of. Yes? Yes!
Dontcry is off to bed. Try to be tolerant, please. (except in the case of 'marmite' yuk.)
jmp = I can understand your hesitance to get on board with Aspberger's. Do me a favor and read the book I cited ( I got it at my little library in no-wheres-ville-md) so I'm sure you can pick up a copy as well. Check back with us afterwards, will ya? I'm usually on The Porch if you want to talk.
johnmperry, can you at least see how your initial comment - a rank generalisation without any evidence on offer - might be seen as offensive to both people who have AS and qualified professionals in the field? Most Wordies avoid laying out tendentious propositions simply for the sake of prodding others to a vexed response. This practice helps us to get along fine most of the time, and not at the expense of lively and candid discussions.
IAWTC, mollusque. I don't know anyone personally who has Asperger's, though.
As for ADHD, there may be extreme cases that actually do need to be diagnosed and treated, but I think it is far too often used as an excuse for bad behaviour. When I was about 10, I was bullied horribly at school. One of the perpetrators apparently had ADHD and therefore I was told I had to excuse all his nastiness because he couldn't help it.
As it was, I could almost excuse his behaviour a little because I knew his home situation. Even at the age of ten I could tell that he didn't need medication, he needed someone to help him deal with the fact that his mother was dying of cancer. It is obvious that whoever diagnosed him did not look very deep into his life and just decided that there could only be one reason for his acting out: a behavioural disability. I'm certainly no expert, but I would think that a lot of kids who are diagnosed with ADHD really just have other things going on in their lives that they are acting out against
The problem, I think, with adjusting class structure is that it is impossible to cater to every child and every learning style.
It's rare but real. I know a boy who is correctly diagnosed with it, and it is not something he is going to outgrow.
ADHD on the other hand I think is a ridiculous diagnosis. When 20% of the population qualifies, it's just part of normal variation. Instead of treating something normal with Ritalin, schools should modify classroom expectations to allow kids to move around more. My daughter has had some classes where the kids were allowed to knit or relax on the floor. Fewer kids "acted out" and most learned more.