As of today -- June 21 -- the Autism at About.com website is once again offering new content to readers. This is a somewhat momentous time in the autism world, as there are now brand new criteria from the American Psychiatric Association redefining autism. Here are just a few of the changes:
- Instead of five different autism spectrum disorders, there is now just one, single "Autism Spectrum Disorder" diagnosis, which will incorporate the old categories including Asperger syndrome and PDD-NOS;
- The new Autism Spectrum will include three "functional levels," which are defined under the new criteria based on "need for support;"
- The new Autism Spectrum will include numerous specifiers to allow clinicians to accurately diagnose individuals with specific symptoms.
Are these changes a good thing? What will they really mean to families living with autism? In the next weeks and month, I'll be publishing articles exploring all these and many other related questions. To get you started, here are answers to some of your most pressing questions, from two top autism experts (including one of the creators of the new criteria, Dr. Bryan King).
Meanwhile: it is VERY IMPORTANT to know that the new DSM specifically states that anyone with a well-established autism spectrum diagnosis -- including a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome or PDD-NOS -- need not be re-evaluated. Their diagnoses should simply be re-coded under the new Autism Spectrum. If anyone tells you otherwise, be sure to refer them to the DSM-5. If anyone insists that you are wrong, be sure to report the incident to the autism organization of your choice (Autism Speaks, Autism Society, etc.), most of which are collecting patient anecdotes relative to the new DSM.
Want to talk about the new DSM-5, get all the latest information, and stay abreast of new articles and blogs? Here's how: