New Proposed Updates to the Definition of Autism

An estimated million plus adults and children have been diagnosed with autism or a similar disorder. The proposed definition adjustments are slated to consolidate three different disorder diagnoses under the same category: Autism spectrum disorder – which would eliminate both:
• P.D.D.-N.O.S. (Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified); and
• Asperger syndrome from the D.S.M. manual.
The panel is faced with the challenge of where to draw the distinction between abnormal and merely unusual behavior. The decisions made will impact not only the people evaluated by the new definition, but a great number of social, medical and other health professionals.
Under the current autism definition criterion, qualification for a diagnosis requires that an individual exhibits at least 6 of the listed behavior criteria. The new autism definition requires an addition of 5 more aspects:
• At least 6 or more of the 12 listed behaviors;
• At least 3 communication and social interaction deficits; and
• A minimum of 2 repetitive behaviors.
There is concern by social activists that the new autism definition, which proposes far narrower parameters, will drastically affect how those struggling with symptoms will receive, without undue discrimination:
• Education
• Services
• Treatment; and
• Social service benefits they require.
In fact, some doctors believe that new changes could severely curtail the autism definition such that it will ultimately end the surge of diagnoses.

Experts at the Psychiatric Association have reportedly expressed that they strongly disagree about how the proposed changes will impact society. Those organizations serving persons with Autism have been advised, through the panel’s previous projections, that the definition changes would actually cause far fewer people to be excluded. This contention, however, has not yet been confirmed.
It has been 17 years since a major revision has been done on the manual that drives the treatment, insurance and research decisions of mental illness. Providers have learned that most experts believe the autism definition revision may greatly narrow the criterion for what constitutes autism.
While the new analysis is preliminary, many autism providers believe that the new proposed adjustments to the official meaning of autism could drastically affect the rate at which, and ultimately the number, of people who are diagnosed with the disease.

The new autism definition could incite some heated discussions, as millions of people receiving state-funded services could find themselves affected by new decisions as to eligibility. Proposed changes could exclude those diagnosed in the higher functioning category.

Disagreement about the actual effect after the new definition is finalized is expected to increase scrutiny of the psychiatric association panel’s proposed adjustments to the D.S.M. Autism NJ providers have learned that the revisions are slated to be completed and finalized by December of 2012, and published in the spring of 2013, according to a spokesperson for the University of Pittsburgh.

Capitol Care, Inc. in NJ and Capitol Care South in AL are agency's that provide Autism NJ and Autism AL services to those with Autism and their families. Capitol Care, Inc. and Capitol Care South are a distinguished name in behavioral health programs and services.

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