by Lee Anne Owens
In May of 2013 the new diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder will be distributed to doctors via the fifth version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM 5). Think of the DSM 5 as the Bible of diagnostic criteria, developed and written by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).
One of the most discussed changes in the DSM 5 Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is the removal of Asperger’s syndrome and PDD-NOS as individual diagnoses. Under the new diagnostic criteria, Asperger’s and PDD-NOS will come under the umbrella of ASD. For example a child whose diagnosis is currently Asperger’s syndrome would receive a new diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder with specifiers included, such as “Autism Spectrum Disorder with fluent speech” or “Autism Spectrum Disorder with intellectual disability.” According to Dr. Bryan King, of the APA’s Neurodevelopmental Disorders Workgroup, this change could mean a decrease in the differentiation of services available to those previously diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. (http://autism.about.com/od/diagnosingautism/a/Why-Asperger-Syndrome-Will-Disappear.htm) In layman’s terms this means that some children will benefit from a greater availability of needed services because they have a diagnosis of ASD, rather than Asperger’s.