DSM-5 Debate Continues

Following our post last week, Change in Autism Definition Spark Fears of Cuts to Service, debate surrounding the proposed changes to the medical definition of autism has multiplied.

One investigation found that proposed revisions to the American Psychiatric Association’s definition would exclude about 75% those currently diagnosed with milder forms of autism.

The proposed revisions, which would come into effect in 2013, are likely to have big repercussions for those who would have once been eligible for services that experts say can improve an individual’s abilities to socialize, learn and ultimately live independently. The changes to DSM-5 have also sparked a broader discussion over the value of a diagnosis for behavior differences, and how to fairly allocate services at a time when resources are dwindling.

Parents are justifiably concerned that any tightening of the autistic spectrum will threaten their children’s eligibility for vital services. A campaign has therefore been launched by The Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership, Inc. to lobby the DSM-5 task force to keep a broad spectrum concept of autism.  The campaign urges those affected to contact the DSM-5 Committee to protest the newest changes.

Debate has also been rife among medical professionals.  Many divisions of the American Psychological Association have banded together to issue an open letter and petition to the DSM-5 task force and American Psychiatric Association urging that both associations should be working together on any revisions of the DSM and also publicly opposing various aspects of the proposed changes.  The letter states, “Psychologists are not only consumers and utilizers of the manual, but we are also producers of seminal research on DSM-defined disorder categories and their empirical correlates.”

The preliminary draft revisions to the current diagnostic criteria for psychiatric diagnoses are available for public review on the DSM-5 website.  Publication of the fifth edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders will be in May 2013.  Despite mounting criticism the DSM-5 task force has shown no signs of amending their recommendations for changes to the definition of Autism.

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