Some may or may not be aware of the changes coming down the pike in regards to autism support and diagnosis in America. The DSM V has indeed raised some controversy and legitimate concerns among industry practitioners and most importantly parents.
The DSM-V eliminates autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder and pervasive developmental disorder (not otherwise specified) by dissolving them into one diagnosis called autism spectrum disorder. According to the APA, this represents an effort to more accurately diagnose all individuals showing the signs of autism.
Furthermore, the changes in the DSM- V definition of autism will result in lowered rates– 10% according to estimates by the DSM- V work group, perhaps 50% according to outside research groups. This reduction can be seen as beneficial in the sense that the diagnosis of autism will be more accurate and specific- but advocates understandably fear a disruption in needed school services. Here the DSM- V problem is not so much a bad decision, but the misleading promises that it will have no impact on rates of disorder or of service delivery. School services should be tied more to educational need, less to a controversial psychiatric diagnosis created for clinical (not educational) purposes and whose rate is so sensitive to small changes in definition and assessment.
Ultimately, a change in the DSM V directly connects to what insurance carriers will pay for delivery of services, whether educational or clinical services will take precedent in service delivery is yet to be determined. However, it is well understood that many children diagnosed with autism need a healthy mixture from each industry.
Keep the conversation going, please share your thoughts on this topic.
Venus A. David, M. Ed.