April is Autism Awareness Month, and today (April 2nd) is the 6th annual World Autism Awareness Day. Every April we feature our CE courses that focus on autism with the goal of contributing to autism awareness among health professionals. This year we are offering 25% off all of our autism-related CEU courses for the entire month:
Families who have a child with autism may face new challenges this year when the long-awaited revised version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM5) is published. It is scheduled for release in May 2013. Published by the American Psychiatric Association, the DSM is considered the “bible” of psychiatry because it establishes the criteria mental health professionals use to diagnose their patients. According to Clinical Psychiatry News (Feb. 6, 2013), the new autism requirements in the DSM5 will be more restrictive than those found in the current DSM-IV.
The intent is to make the diagnosis of autism more precise, but one of the real-life consequences will be that many individuals who are currently diagnosed with the condition may no longer qualify under the new criteria. An article published in CNN Health (Dec. 3, 2012) cited research predicting that at least 5% to 10% of patients will no longer meet the criteria for autism.
Other predictions are for much higher numbers. One article, published in the journal Developmental Neurorehabilitation in June 2012, found that over 47% fewer toddlers would be diagnosed under the DSM5 autism criteria than under the current DSM-IV criteria. Whether or not such projections prove to be accurate, there is widespread concern among parents and advocacy groups that individuals who are currently diagnosed and under treatment may lose their benefits.
While it may take several years for these diagnostic shifts to sort themselves out, it is important in the meantime for professionals who work with autistic individuals to monitor the situation closely. We plan to publish new courses as the DSM5 diagnostic criteria are phased in and new research becomes available.
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