Impact of New Autism Diagnostic Criteria

Author: Yale University
Published: 2012/04/16 - Updated: 2021/09/21
Peer-Reviewed: N/A
Contents: Summary - Main - Related Publications

Synopsis: Getting an autism diagnosis may be more difficult once a revised diagnostic definition goes into effect. The proposed changes to the diagnostic definition will be published in the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). In the field trial for DSM-4 they found about 25% of those diagnosed with classic autism and 75% of those with Asperger's Syndrome or pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified, would not meet the new criteria for autism.

Main Digest

The proposed changes may affect the proportion of individuals who qualify for a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, according to a study by Yale Child Study Center researchers published in the April issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

Autism is broadly defined as a brain development disorder that is characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and restricted and repetitive behavior, all starting before a child is three years old. This set of signs distinguishes autism from milder autism spectrum disorders (ASD) such as pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS).

The proposed changes to the diagnostic definition will be published in the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association's (APA) "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)."

"Given the potential implications of these findings for service eligibility, our findings offer important information for consideration by the task force finalizing DSM-5 diagnostic criteria," said Yale Child Study Center director Fred Volkmar, M.D., who conducted the study with colleagues Brian Reichow and James McPartland.

Volkmar and his team performed an analysis of symptoms observed in 933 individuals evaluated for autism in the field trial for DSM-4. They found that about 25 percent of those diagnosed with classic autism and 75 percent of those with Asperger's Syndrome or pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified, would not meet the new criteria for autism.

The study also suggests that higher-functioning individuals may be less likely to meet the new criteria than individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Volkmar cautioned that these findings reflect analyses of a single data set and that more information will be provided by upcoming field trials overseen by the APA. He stressed that it is critical to examine the impact of proposed criteria in both clinical and research settings.

"Use of such labels, particularly in the United States, can have important implications for service," he said. "Major changes in diagnosis also pose issues for comparing results across research studies."

Citation:

Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Vol. 51, No. 4 (April 2012) www.jaacap.com/article/S0890-8567%2812%2900042-1/abstract

Attribution/Source(s):

This quality-reviewed publication pertaining to our Autism Information section was selected for circulation by the editors of Disabled World due to its likely interest to our disability community readers. Though the content may have been edited for style, clarity, or length, the article "Impact of New Autism Diagnostic Criteria" was originally written by Yale University, and submitted for publishing on 2012/04/16 (Edit Update: 2021/09/21). Should you require further information or clarification, Yale University can be contacted at yale.edu. Disabled World makes no warranties or representations in connection therewith.

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