The Diagnosis Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) will be released. The DSM-5 is a document of the American Psychiatric Association. The DSM-5 Manual is used by many organizations, individuals and government to diagnosis a particular disorder, including autism.
The DSM-5 made some changes into how autism is defined. In the past, the Diagnosis Manual defined what a diagnosis of autism needed to include, but also separated an Asperger Syndrome diagnosis and some other common elements of autism. In the DSM-5, there is no longer a separate diagnosis category for Asperger Syndrome and other sub parts of autism but rather there is now one diagnosis definition for autism. In addition, the DSM-5 also reduces social related elements of autism into social communication impairment and repetitive/restricted behaviors.
Those who worked on the DSM-5 repeated many times that no one with a current diagnosis of autism will be impacted by these changes. However, it is possible that government and other providers of programs might choose to re-diagnosis under the new definition to determine if the individual still is defined as living with autism for purposes of receiving services. We applaud the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), under the director of Dr. Tom Insel, who has chosen not to place so much weight on the DSM-5 diagnosis categories. According to NIMH, NIMH will not use DSM categories as the “gold standard” and will begin moving away from an exclusive focus on symptom-based categories.
The Autism Society strongly urges every government unit and service provider not to reduce or eliminated services to individual currently getting services due to the DSM-5 changes. In addition, we encourage government units and service providers to fully understand and appreciate that a person who might not be defined as living with autism under the new DSM-5 criteria still needs the support and the helping hand of government.