Over the years Autistic Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, and Asperger’s Syndrome had been listed as subcategories of Pervasive Development Disorder. However, in 2013 when the fifth addition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) came out it listed all the subcategories of Pervasive Development Disorder as Autism Spectrum Disorder. The DSM-5 is the tool that doctors use when diagnosing individuals. The manual instead listed a range and severity under the diagnosis. There are three levels of severity for autism spectrum disorder with level 1 being acquiring support, level 2 being acquiring substantial support, and level 3 being acquiring very substantial support. Previous individuals diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and Autistic Disorder are now diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Why was it changed?
According to the American Psychiatric Association the decision to change the diagnosis was to help make diagnoses more consistent. Research had find that with the separate diagnosis there was inconsistency in how it was being applied across different clinic and treatment centers. Being combining all 4 subcategories into one diagnosis with a level of severity it will increase consistent diagnosis.
Other changes made in the DSM-5
They changed the domains of autism from symptoms from social impairments, language/communication impairment, and repetitive/restricted behaviors to social communication impairment and restricted interest/repetitive behaviors. Now an individual must exhibit at least 3 deficits in social/communication and 2 in restricted interest/repetitive behaviors There is also a new category called social (pragmatic) communication disorder that will allow a diagnosis for individuals with a social communication impairment but no restricted interest or repetitive behaviors.
What does this mean if your child did have an Asperger diagnosis?
According to the American Psychiatric Association anyone who had been previously diagnosed with Asperger, childhood disintegrate disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified should will still meet the new criteria for autism spectrum disorder. However, if you have a concern about the changes please contact your doctor for a reevaluation.
All of the changes were made to help doctors make accurate diagnosis which allow therapist help the individual even more.
Below are some more links to check out for more information:
- NIMH - Autism Spectrum
- Psychiatry.org - Educational Resources - DSM-5
- Autism Speaks - Diagnostic Criteria