Criteria for Autism is changing as the DSM-5 creates a new category: Autism Spectrum Disorder

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has proposed new diagnostic criteria for Autism in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

While final decisions are still months away, the recommendations reflect the work of dozens of the nation’s top scientific and research minds and are supported by more than a decade of intensive study and analysis.

The proposal recommends a new category called autism spectrum disorder which would incorporate several previously separate diagnoses, including autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified.

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. The proposed diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder specify a range of severity as well as describe the individual’s overall developmental status–in social communication and other relevant cognitive and motor behaviors.

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.

Field testing of the proposed criteria for autism spectrum disorder does not indicate that there will be any change in the number of patients receiving care for autism spectrum disorders in treatment centers–just more accurate diagnoses that can lead to more focused treatment.

via American Psychiatric Association

DSM is the manual used by clinicians and researchers to diagnose and classify mental disorders. The APA will publish DSM-5 in 2013, culminating a 14-year revision process.

Join the Conversation

No comments

  1. I do believe this is another soft analysis of DSM-5 changes. Look deeply into this please. If you don’t have time to look deeper and obsess over every detail and go after info regarding this DSM-5 change to autism diagnosis, may I suggest you go to a website with a mom of autistic son who already did quite a bit of research on this and tells us more than we may care to know. It can be found at
    or type in a search engine the title, “Autistics with Severe Behaviors Exist”. It exposes a very possible reason why Dr. Catherine Lord and others are trying to create a caste system in the autism diagnosis. They seem to want to eliminate the most high functioning among spectrum, along with the most severely afflicted autistics. It’s all about money. They want autistics with moderate to high (but not too high) to be in the research now. It’s so much easier. And fits their agenda, which is discussed in this moms blog.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *