DSM-5 Changes in Autism

With publication of the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) in May 2013, DSM-V Changeschanges to diagnostic labels, symptom criteria, and specifiers of Autism have been put into action.  Perhaps the most obvious change is the exclusion of Asperger’s Disorder in the latest manual.  Not to say the syndrome no longer exists, rather the nosology has been altered.  Asperger’s is now subsumed under the broad diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Apparently, the “spectrum” is now greater than ever, but thanks to a variety of specifiers, the child’s strengths and weaknesses can be easily communicated.

Other Changes to the DSM-5:

  • The creation of a single category for communication and social interaction symptoms.  The focus is less on the actual language impairment, per se, but more on the qualitative social aspect of impairment.
  • Diagnosis now requires at least two restricted and repetitive behaviors, with the old manual requiring only one.
  • Criteria have been clarified to reflect the variations in behaviors, interests, and sensory experiences.

What this means for rates of diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder in the future remains to be seen.  Criticism has abounded, with some predicting inflation in diagnosis while others fear the many costs associated with potential under-diagnosis.  Nonetheless, it is important to realize that with the changing in terminology, treatment of Autism has remained stable and continues to be evidence-driven.

For more on Autism read When to Screen Children for Autism and Other Pervasive Developmental Disorders and Potty Training and Autism: The Complete Guide.  To learn more about the Chicago Autism Clinic, click below or call us at 877-486-4140.


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