It has been 17 years since the last significant overhaul of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The planned fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is due for publication in May 2013.
And whilst the proposed changes to DSM-IV diagnoses are many and include Asperger syndrome, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Bipolar disorder, Depression, Dissociative identity disorder, Hypersexual disorder, etc, the proposed changes to the diagnostic criteria for Autism has received much concern by many.
The proposed change includes consolidating autism spectrum disorder and eliminating Asperger syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD.-NOS). The new criteria would also require a person to exhibit three social interaction and communication deficits and a minimum of two repetitive behaviors. In contrast, the current requirement is exhibiting 6 or more of 12 behaviors to be diagnosed as autistic.
Concerns are numerous and aired by families of autistic children and adults, practitioners, and researchers. Families are worried that if the proposed changes are accepted, their access to support services might diminish. Others are concerned, understandably, that with these changes will impair the ability of health officials and researchers to compare future rates of autism spectrum disorders to past rates.
For example, a recent Yale University study found that out of a group of patients diagnosed with autism participating in a 1994 field trial, roughly half wouldn’t be considered autistic anymore under new guidelines proposed by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).
The following link takes you the APA’s DSM-5 development site.