Asperger’s Society of Ontario rebrands to ASO

Oct 13, 2020 | News

Home » News » Asperger’s Society of Ontario rebrands to ASO

After many months of extensive planning and collaboration between our Board of Directors, our Executive Director, and the design team at Qualiaris, we are thrilled to introduce you to our new brand.

ASO - In our own way

ASO is the all-new brand for our organization, which first launched in 2000 as the Asperger’s Society of Ontario. After 20 years, and some significant changes related to the “Asperger’s Syndrome” diagnosis and revelations relating to the disorder’s namesake, it was time for us to refresh and modernize our brand, and adopt a new name that doesn’t stray too far from the original.

While designing and deploying this rebrand took us much longer than we would have liked due to our being a volunteer-driven organization with very limited funding, we are thrilled with the new name and our new look and feel — and hope that you love it as much as we do.

Why ASO?

Over the past 20 years, we have often referred to the Asperger’s Society of Ontario in its acronym form, i.e., ASO. As ours is a community that does not adapt well to change, we made the decision to adopt this well-used abbreviation in a more permanent way.

A streamlined new logo  

ASO logo rebranding, before and after

The new logo embraces the same colours and design concept that was used to communicate the idea of “in our own way”. But it now does this using a more modern and gender neutral approach. The font also uses clean lines, making it easier to read.

Woman holding tablet
Aspergers.ca will automatically refer visitors to the new site

Serving up a fresh new website

Our previous website may have served us well in the past, but in recent years it became unwieldy. It was difficult to navigate from a computer, was not very accessible from a mobile phone, and did not integrate donations directly on our website (instead referring donors to a third party website). It was also not very easy to update. Plus, when our resource directory first launched, our website served as a helpful directory of contacts and information for our community. But without extensive funding, keeping this online resource updated became incredibly difficult. 

Today we are excited to launch our new website, which not only has a great new look and feel, but is also published using a new ASOntario.ca web domain (Aspergers.ca will automatically refer visitors to the new site). 

The new site also features an integrated and highly secure donation form (with all donations processed by CanadaHelps). Now, it is easier than ever for you to make a one-time or monthly donation directly from our website. You can also donate a gift to ASO as a dedication in honour or memory of someone important to you.

The underlying reason for our rebranding

Look and feel aside, you may be wondering what prompted our organization to rebrand to ASO. 

One of the primary reasons for the name change relates to concerns raised relating to Dr. Hans Asperger’s association with the Nazi regime

Hans Asperger with a young patient, University Pediatric Clinic, Vienna c. 1940. Image source: Wikipedia

Hans Asperger was an Austrian pediatrician whose clinical observations of children led him to publish a comprehensive study on autism in 1944. It wasn’t until the 1980s, after psychiatrist Lorna Wing resurrected his findings, that his study gained international acknowledgement.

In 1994, Asperger’s Disorder (commonly referred to as Asperger’s Syndrome) was added to the 4th edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which is used as a reference for patient diagnoses. For many years, Dr. Asperger was celebrated for his findings.

In 2018 however, in an article published in Molecular Autism, Herwig Czech, a historian at the Medical University of Vienna, writes that “The narrative of Asperger as a principled opponent of National Socialism and a courageous defender of his patients against Nazi ‘euthanasia’ and other race hygiene measures does not hold up in the face of the historical evidence.”

It was patient records from Am Spiegelgrund, an infamous child euthanasia facility in Vienna that led Czech to discover Dr. Asperger’s role in transferring children to the facility. 

In an interview with the CBC, Czech asserted that Dr. Asperger did not join the Nazi party, however, he did join an affiliated organization, The German Physicians’ League Candidate. Czech writes, Dr. Asperger “tried to adapt and to prove his political trustworthiness, and this was his way of doing that.”

In an article published in the New York Times by Edith Sheffer, author of “Asperger’s Children: The Origins of Autism in Nazi Vienna,” Sheffer calls for people to stop saying “Asperger’s.” She writes, “It’s one way to honor the children killed in his name as well as those still labeled with it.” 

Following these disturbing revelations, the Asperger’s Society of Ontario began discussions and consultations with our community and experts in this field, ultimately moving forward with a decision to rebrand. 

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5). Image source: https://www.psychiatry.org/

The other reason for the name change emerged seven years ago when the definition of Autism Spectrum Disorders was changed in the DSM. 

In 2013, when the 5th (and latest) edition of the DSM was published, the term “Asperger’s Syndrome” was removed. And instead, those that had previously been diagnosed as having Asperger’s Syndrome would fall under Level 1 of an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). 

At that time, we polled our community and recognized that many members of our community still considered themselves to be “Aspies” while others now considered themselves to be “Autistic”. We made the decision back then that we would continue to support both those diagnosed under the Asperger’s Syndrome name, as well as those under the new Level 1 category of ASD – since the traits are essentially the same. ASO is a neutral new brand that extends our 20-year history as an organization and supports both diagnoses.

Girl holding colorful leafs

How you can help us

Now that you have some context around our new brand, our hope is that you will take the time to review our new website and provide us with your feedback and comments. We also hope that you will share details of our new brand widely so that more people in the community who need our support are aware of ASO and the services we provide. 

And lastly, if ASO (under our previous or current brand) has been helpful for you or your family or someone you know, please consider making a donation. As a charity that receives no government funding, every dollar donated makes a huge difference.

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