Archive for May, 2012

Redefining Autism: Will New DSM-5 Criteria for ASD Exclude Some People?

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

People have been arguing about autism for a long time—about what causes it, how to treat it and whether it qualifies as a mental disorder. The controversial idea that childhood vaccines trigger autism also persists, despite the fact that study after study has failed to find any evidence of such a link. Now, psychiatrists and members of the autistic community are embroiled in a more legitimate kerfuffle that centers on the definition of autism and how clinicians diagnose the disorder. The debate is not pointless semantics. In many cases, the type and number of symptoms clinicians look for when diagnosing autism determines how easy or difficult it is for autistic people to access medical, social and educational services.

The controversy remains front and center because the American Psychiatric Association (APA) has almost finished redefining autism, along with all other mental disorders, in an overhaul of a hefty tome dubbed the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)—the essential reference guide that clinicians use when evaluating their patients. The newest edition of the manual, the DSM-5, is slated for publication in May 2013. Psychiatrists and parents have voiced concerns that the new definition of autism in the DSM-5 will exclude many people from both a diagnosis and state services that depend on a diagnosis.

The devilish confusion is in the details. When the APA publishes the DSM-5, people who have already met the criteria for autism in the current DSM-IV will not suddenly lose their current diagnosis as some parents have feared, nor will they lose state services. But several studies recently published in child psychiatry journals suggest that it will be more difficult for new generations of high-functioning autistic people to receive a diagnosis because the DSM-5 criteria are too strict. Together, the studies conclude that the major changes to the definition of autism in the DSM-5 are well grounded in research and that the new criteria are more accurate than the current DSM-IV criteria. But in its efforts to make diagnosis more accurate, the APA may have raised the bar for autism a little too high, neglecting autistic people whose symptoms are not as severe as others. The studies also point out, however, that minor tweaks to the DSM-5 criteria would make a big difference, bringing autistic people with milder symptoms or sets of symptoms that differ from classic autism back into the spectrum

 Let us know what you think. . . . . .

Autism Statistics Increase To 1 in 88 Children, and 1 in 54 Boys

Friday, May 18th, 2012

The CDC announced on March 29, 2012 that the autism prevalence in the United States increased to 1 in 88 children and (1 in 54 boys and 1 in 252 girls).  More children are affected by autism than diabetes, AIDs, cancer, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy or Down syndrome combined.  This stark increase warrants immediate assistance and solutions.

Many experts contribute the increase in the prevalence of autism to improved diagnostic tools, however, it is important to not overlook other factors and studies which indicate environmental, and non-genetic influences which suggests improved detection is not the overwhelming result of the pervasiveness of autism.

Let us know what you think!