The new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is supposed to be released in May 2013, and with its publication could come a sea of changes to mental health diagnoses.
People with autistic disorder (autism), Asperger’s disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified, will be on the “autism spectrum” instead of being diagnosed with separate disorders, if the proposed revisions to the DSM are accepted.
Or people with these disorders currently might not fit the criteria for the new autism spectrum disorder, which is the fear of some activists and advocates.
A press release from SafeMinds, a non-profit organization that funds research related to mercury and autism, stated that there are multiple concerns with the proposed revisions, such as that the revisions will “potentially disrupt appropriate and necessary services to hundreds of thousands of individuals in the U.S., hamper the ability to track the numbers of people with autism, and interfere with efforts to establish biological causes of autism.”
Some children who could be helped by early intervention and treatment might be overlooked with the new autism spectrum disorder criteria, making it difficult for them to get help later on in life, according to the press release.
The American Psychiatric Association issued a news release explaining the reasoning behind the proposed changes.
“The proposal asserts that symptoms of these four disorders represent a continuum from mild to severe, rather than a simple yes or no diagnosis to a specific disorder,” according to the news release. “This change will help clinicians more accurately diagnose people with relevant symptoms and behaviors by recognizing the differences from person to person, rather than providing general labels that tend not to be consistently applied across different clinics and centers.”
Dr. James Scully, the medical director of the American Psychiatric Association, suggested in the news release that the new autism spectrum disorder would actually improve accuracy in diagnosis and could lead to better treatment for children.