DSM V: Diagnostic Criteria Changes for Autism

The proposed changes for the DSM V have been in the works for a very long time. In fact, I wrote about them in 2009.

Here is the basic synopsis:

  • The current diagnostic criteria for Autism (299.0 in the DSM IV) is pretty complicated (read it here). One must have several symptoms off of one checklist, and several off of a different list, and one off of a third list etc.
  • Aspergers Syndrome currently has a different list of diagnostic criteria, and is a separate diagnosis (299.8).
  • Austism (299.0) has been clinically indistinguishable from Aspergers Syndrome (299.8) for quite some time. That means different clinicians could diagnose the same person with either autism or aspergers, depending on the day, the clinician, the state, etc. The differences are not very clearly delineated.
  • The new DSM (coming out in May 2013) proposes to simplify the autism diagnostic criteria (read the proposed new criteria here) and eliminate the diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome.
  • The conflict:

  • Some people with Aspergers are proud of their label/title/diagnosis name
  • Some people want a ‘short hand’ way to know if a person on the spectrum is verbal, smart, and socially awkward, or intensely in their own world and ‘Aspergers’ is currently a kind of code word for ‘high functioning’ (which is it’s own controversial term)
  • If the new criteria is more strict (which it is), then less people may receive the diagnosis, so less people may qualify for beneficial services.
  • Some people say the DSM has no business reconfiguring it’s criteria at all, and some say that the field of psychology is obligated to keep improving itself, and informing the public about the newest relevant information.
  • and some people (read: me) say that ‘scientific definitions’ are ever-changing as the depth of our understanding is ever changing. The danger is claiming each new degree of awareness as the absolute final word.

    1 Comment

    1. Diane MacNaughton October 9, 2012 4:29 pm  Reply

      I think it is good that we will get rid of Aspergers and we will be all under the Autistic Spectrum Diagnosis. I do not like the charactrization of people of being low and high functioning and think that should be reserved for objects. The scientific community is always retuning things and this will continue.

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