The New DSM-5

Earlier this month, the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) was released.  This has been highly anticipated by the autism community because the diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder has been changed.  Many autism community members – especially those whose children are diagnosed with Asperger syndrome – have expressed concerns about whether their children could lose their diagnosis and, consequently, lose access to treatment. 

The new DSM-5 combines four diagnoses – autistic disorder, Asperger syndrome, pervasive development disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and childhood disintegrative disorder – into a single label of autism. Individuals with a “well established” DSM-IV diagnosis of any of those will receive a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. The other difference between DSM-IV and DSM-5 is that DSM-5 combines social and language deficits into a single measure, reducing three domains to two. According to the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SAFARI), individuals who have social deficits but no repetitive behaviors will receive a new diagnosis of social communication disorder. Autism Speaks has reiterated that it will “take a proactive role to help ensure that the DSM-5’s revised criteria for ASD would not result in a loss of diagnosis or services for affected individuals.”

CARD wants to know if and how the new DSM-5 has affected you.  Please post your comments, questions, and concerns in the “Comments” section on our Facebook page, and we will revisit this issue in the coming weeks.