AUTISM

AUTISM

November 9, 2012

Autism diagnosis change questioned by York University study



Kate Allen  |  Science & Technology Reporter 

In the clinics, classrooms, and conference halls where autism is front of mind, there are few topics that carry more urgency than the DSM-5.

The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the tome doctors use to diagnose mental disorders, is set to change the way doctors diagnose autism, a spectrum of developmental delays that affect 1 in 88 children. Since a draft of the changes was first revealed, controversy has bubbled over whether some children will no longer qualify and, as a result, be stripped of access to social services.

Still, when Dr. Adrienne Perry helped a York University undergraduate student, Azin Taheri, design a study to look at how the new DSM-5 criteria mapped out onto kids who already had autism, “I didn’t think it was going to be particularly controversial,” she says.

Perry, an associate professor in York’s Department of Psychology, expected most children to fit the new diagnosis. “But that was not the way it turned out.”

When it is published in May 2013, the DSM-5 will substantially recast autism, doing away with sub-categories like Asperger’s syndrome to make way for one broad label called autism spectrum disorder. It also tweaks how the disorder is described, adding new traits and changing the number and nature of characteristics kids and adults need in order to qualify. The changes were made, in part, with the hope of diagnosing more accurately.

The York study looked at case histories of 131 children aged 2 to 12. All had either autism or pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), two of the current subcategories. None had Asperger’s. READ MORE >>

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