What You Need to Know About the DSM-V Changes

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, is a book used by mental health professionals and educators to classify and diagnose neurological and behavioral disorders such as autism. The new version, or the DSM-V, has undergone significant changes when it comes to diagnosing autism. If you are the parent of a child with autism , here is how the DSM-V changes may affect you.

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Umbrella Diagnosis
Perhaps the most significant change in the new DSM-V manual is a reclassification of many different diagnoses of autism. In the new text, formerly separate diagnoses of Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Disorder, and PDD-NOS will now all be classified simply as “Autism Spectrum Disorder.” Physicians and mental health professionals will distinguish between individuals according to pre-determined severity levels.

Stricter Criteria
The DSM-V also proposes revisions to the specific criteria that must be met before a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder may be made. When compared to the old criteria, these new guidelines are both  stricter and more thorough . Individuals will now need to present with more fixated interests and repetitive behaviors in order to receive an Autism diagnosis. In addition, the classifications of impairments in Communication and Social Interaction have been fused into a single category: Social/Communication Deficits.

Initial Criticism
Many educators, psychiatrists, and behavior experts have already spoken out against the proposed DSM-V changes for how they may adversely affect individuals with autism. For example, state and educational services and insurance companies may re-define the parameters for funding treatment of students who no longer meet the DSM qualifications for Autism but still face behavior and learning challenges.  Although individuals diagnosed under the DSM-IV guidelines will retain their original diagnosis, newly diagnosed individuals will be affected by the new criteria.  What are your thoughts on the changes?

The Behavior Exchange is committed to our mission of helping children with a range of behavioral differences and learning challenges develop a lifelong love of learning. If your child has been diagnosed with autism, we offer both group and  one-on-one behavior classes  that capitalize on the lessons of applied behavior analysis. Visit us on the Web or call us at (972) 312-8733 to learn more about our collaborative approach to learning. 

Written By Tammy Cline-Soza, MS, BCBA

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