You may have heard that there were significant changes recently made in the field of mental health. These changes significantly effect how autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed. If you are currently seeking or already receiving mental health services for your developmentally challenged child, this may be of interest:
On May 18, 2013, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) published the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), culminating a 14-year revision process. One of the most important and significant changes in the DSM-5 is to autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The revised diagnosis represents a new, more accurate, medically and scientifically useful way of diagnosing individuals with autism-related disorders (http://www.dsm5.org).
What does this mean for those who have been previously diagnosed with ASD or a related disorder?
Previous to the DSM-5, the DSM-IV allowed patients to be diagnosed with four separate disorders: autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, or the catch-all diagnosis of pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS). Researchers found that these separate diagnoses were not consistently applied across different clinics and treatment centers. These four separate diagnostic labels will be replaced by one umbrella term “Autism Spectrum Disorder” and distinguished by severity levels. The removal of the formal diagnoses of Asperger’s Disorder and PDD-NOS is a major change. People who currently hold these diagnoses will likely receive a different diagnosis when re-evaluated.
Under the DSM-5 criteria, individuals with ASD must show symptoms from early childhood (before 36 months of age), even if those symptoms are not recognized until later. This criteria change encourages earlier diagnosis of ASD but also allows people whose symptoms may not be fully recognized until social demands exceed their capacity to receive the diagnosis and early intervention services (http://www.dsm5.org).