Autism now affects about one per cent of American children, a growing prevalence that can be attributed to increasing diagnoses of Asperger’s syndrome, a mild form of autism. Just as the diagnosis is increasingly common, only becoming part of the medical lexicon in 1994, experts who are revising the diagnostic manual of psychiatry are proposing to eliminate it from the new edition due for publication in 2012. If so, Asperger’s and other mind forms of autism will be included in one single diagnosis, “autism spectrum disorder,” which would include everyone from high-functioning people to those who are extremely disabled. “Nobody has been able to show consistent differences between what clinicians diagnose as Asperger’s syndrome and what they diagnose as mild autistic disorder,” Catherine Lord, director of the Autism and Communication Disorders Centers at the University of Michigan, one of 13 members of a group evaluating autism for the manual, told the New York Times. “Asperger’s means a lot of different things to different people. It’s confusing and not terribly useful.” But experts worry that the label’s loss will stop mildly affected people from being assessed for autism: the public has a fairly positive view of those affected by Asperger’s, many of whom are socially awkward but high-functioning in other ways, but might hesitate before being diagnosed as autistic.