DSM-5 Changing Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnosis

DSM-5 Autism Spectrum Disorders Diagnosis

Autism Spectrum Disorders Diagnosing Criteria will change in May 2013

DSM-5 Autism Disorders

The way in which Autism Spectrum Disorders, including Asperger’s Syndrome, are diagnosed are going to radically change in May 2013. At the moment the DSM-4 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders ) criteria is being used to diagnose and categorise Autism Spectrum Disorders, within the Spectrum there are currently 2 main categories – Autism and Aspergers. With the new criteria of DSM-5 Apergers Syndrome, CDD (Childhood Disintegrative Disorder) and PDD NOS (Pervasive Development Disorder Not Otherwise Specified)will also fall into the general category of Autism Disorders/Autism Spectrum Disorders. The new proposed DSM-5 (DSM-V) will do away with Aspergers all together and they will all fall within one label – Autism Disorders with specific symptom identifiers.

Proposed DSM 5

Autism Spectrum Disorder must meet criteria 1, 2, and 3:

  1. Clinically significant, persistent deficits in social communication and interactions, as manifest by all of the following:
    1. Marked deficits in nonverbal and verbal communication used for social interaction;
    2. Lack of social reciprocity;
    3. Failure to develop and maintain peer relationships appropriate to developmental level.
  2. Restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests and activities, as manifested by at least TWO of the following:
    1. Stereotyped motor or verbal behaviours, or unusual sensory behaviours;
    2. Excessive adherence to routines and ritualized patterns of behaviour;
    3. Restricted, fixated interests.
  3. Symptoms must be present in early childhood (but may not become fully manifest until social demands exceed limited capacities).

(American Psychiatric Association, 2010)

Autism Population Explosion

The new ASD diagnosing criteria may have the affect of exploding the rate of Autism within the community, which currently sits at 1 in 38 children or 3% of the population (recent figures from a large study in South Korea). The new criteria proposes to simplify the diagnosis and increase the accuracy of specific symptoms associated within the Autism Spectrum of Disorders, CDD and PDD. This will have the potential effect of increasing the rate of Autism by including these disorders under the one banner.


Because autism is defined by a common set of behaviors, it is best represented as a single diagnostic category that is adapted to the individual’s clinical presentation by inclusion of clinical specifiers (e.g., severity, verbal abilities and others) and associated features (e.g., known genetic disorders, epilepsy, intellectual disability and others.) A single spectrum disorder is a better reflection of the state of knowledge about pathology and clinical presentation; previously, the criteria were equivalent to trying to “cleave meatloaf at the joints”.

ASD Community Concerns

There are concerns within the Autism / Aspergers community that an identity will be lost as there will be no future Aspergers labels applied to diagnosis. This may have a social impact in that currently many persons with Aspergers can identify and relate to their condition by the definition of symptoms within that diagnosis, they can differentiate from Autism and feel a sense of “knowing who they are” and why they are perceived to be different from the “general population”. Aspergers varies considerably from Autism in that they do not have an intellectual disability and are generally high functioning with a sense of others perceptions and feelings.

For more information visit the DSM-V (5) web page: http://dsm5.org

Information provided by:
– Alison Roach (Family Advocacy)
– American Psychiatric Association

© 2011 – 2013, EJ Banon. All rights reserved.

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