DSM-5 Changes Won’t Leave Any Out In The Cold

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has released a statement reassuring concerned parties that changes to the definition of autism in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) will not exclude individuals from diagnosis and treatment.

As reported last week in our post, DSM Debate Continues, both the medical profession and general public have been stirred into a frenzy of petitions and campaigns against the proposed changes to the DSM autism criteria.  There has been widespread concern that the removal of Asperger’s disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (NOS) would leave some families no longer eligible for essential medical, social and educational services.

The APA has reassured those affected that no previously covered group will be left out in the cold. The changes would involve merging several diagnoses currently listed separately in the DSM-5 into a single umbrella category of “autism spectrum disorder.”

“The proposed criteria will lead to more accurate diagnosis and will help physicians and therapists design better treatment interventions for children who suffer from autism spectrum disorder,” said James Scully, MD, medical director of the APA, in a release.

“While final decisions are still months away, the recommendations reflect the work of dozens of the nation’s top scientific and research minds and are supported by more than a decade of intensive study analysis,” the APA states in the same release.

Neurodevelopmental Work Group member Bryan H. King, MD, believes that with the changes “we are going to be able to better characterize individuals with autism, in part because of clearer criteria that have been written to better account for people across the age span. And one could argue that this will actually make it easier for adolescents and adults, and even young children potentially, to meet criteria for diagnosis than was previously the case.”

A third public feedback period is scheduled to begin this spring.

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