Changes in Autism Diagnosis Pending
By now you have probably caught wind of the changes that the American Psychiatric Association is planning on making regarding autism diagnosis. Many families are concerned that these changes will affect the services that their children are receiving, and with good reason. The new criteria is more stringent than that listed in the DSM-IV and removes any reference to a lack or delay of verbal communication, which is common in children on the autism spectrum. Additionally, asperger’s syndrome and PDD-NOS diagnosis will be removed completely from the autism spectrum.
A study presented this week at the Icelandic Medical conference shows that many children will be excluded from an autism spectrum diagnosis using the new criteria. It should be noted, however, that this study has not yet gone through the peer review that studies go through prior to publication. Dr. Fred R. Volkmar, director of the Child Study Center at Yale University School of Medicine went so far as to say that “The proposed changes would put an end to the autism epidemic.” Dr. Volkmar is also one of the authors of the new criteria. It’s terrifying to me that a person in this position believes that by excluding children from a diagnosis by changing the wording is resolving an epidemic.
In an online live chat with Dr. Geri Goring and Lisa Dawson, Autism Speaks reports that they are “designing and funding a study that will examine the impact of the new diagnostic system on diagnosis and access to services. We are also working with policy makers and insurance companies to make sure that people are not discriminated against when the new system is implemented.” In addition, the representatives of Autism Speaks report that the basis for the changes to the criteria are solid and are not likely to exclude nearly as many children as the initial study implies.
The proposed changes are expected to be completed by December of 2012. To review the criteria for yourself, compare with the criteria in the DSM-IV and read the rationale for the changes, please go to this link. To read the Autism Speaks live chat on this issue, please go to this link. Information regarding this issue can also be found on our General Autism Information page.