Defining Autism

Many of us were very concerned in January when we learned that the planned revision of the medical definition of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) would restrict its diagnosis in ways that could prevent many children and adults from receiving vital medical and social services.  One study found that the proposed revision to the American Psychiatrist Association (APA) would exclude 75% of those now diagnosed with milder forms of Autism, such as Asperger Syndrome or “Pervasive Developmental Disorder,” not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS.)

Autism Speaks has announced that they have funded a new analysis of the impact of the revision.  This study led by Yale child psychiatrist and epidemiologist Young-Shin Kim, M.D., Ph. D, will reassess children diagnosed with the DSM- IV criteria with the proposed DSM-V criteria.  Also, Autism Speaks researchers re-analyzed records used in the Fred Volkmar, M.D. study.  They found that of those with higher IQ’s only 25-28% met the new criteria for ASD.  The authors of this study acknowledge significant limitations with a study and the need for further review.

Criteria proposed for the DSM-V are posted on the DSM-V website and will open for additional public comments this spring.  The final publication for the DSM-V is planned for May 2013.

As this is an area of concern to many parents and professionals who fear that the change in diagnosis will prevent many persons from receiving medical and social services, I will keep you posted as further information becomes available.

Joseph C. Barber, M.D. will be presenting a free seminar on the “Upcoming Changes in the Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder” on Tuesday, May 22 from 6-7:15 p.m. in the Forum at the Barber National Institute, 100 Barber Place, Erie, PA 16507. You can RSVP for this seminar by calling 814-480-6831.

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