The American Psychological Association removes Asperger’s as a diagnosis.

The APA is apparently reclassifying those who have Asperger’s, which will no longer be a diagnosis under the DSM-V:

The American Psychiatric Association voted this weekend to remove the diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome from the so-called bible of psychiatry, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders. People with Asperger’s will now more likely be diagnosed as having autism spectrum disorder. The APA says the change will lead to more accurate diagnoses for people with autism — but critics say removing the diagnosis may result in fewer people getting the services and care they need.

I’m not quite sure how I feel about this.  I’m very reticent to critique experts in a field when I’m not one, but there are concerns from experts surfacing.

And then there are parents who are justifiably worried that the changes will result in the exclusion of children who would have met Aspergers or PDD-NOS diagnoses under DSM-IV. Studies suggest that the new criteria might exclude anywhere from 10 to 55% of this population. The intention of the committee, or at least one of the stated intentions, was that those who didn’t fall under the autism umbrella might fit with the newly introduced “social communication disorder.” The only problem? A study with DSM-V architect Catherine Lord as senior author seems to have found that children diagnosed with PDD-NOS who didn’t meet the new autism criteria often didn’t have social communication problems. If they don’t have these issues, how will these once-PDD-NOS folk who no longer fit autism criteria fit the criteria for social communication disorder? The social communication disorder diagnosis, by the way, currently carries no infrastructure in the education or services system that would trigger support or resources for someone who has it. Only time will tell whether or not the changes will bear out these concerns in practice.

Here’s hoping it’s for the better.  I’ll try and stay on top of it, or get some input from psyche people if anything new pops up.

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About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.


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