Will New Diagnostic Criteria Lower Autism Rates?

According to a new study, the answer could be – yes. As we talked about here, DSM-5 was released last year – which included new diagnostic criteria for autism. Some experts have said that the new criteria set a higher threshold for autism than the previous version (DSM-4).  This may be true.DSM-5 Manual of Mental Disorders

As noted in this article, researchers applied the new symptom checklist to more than 6,000 children who already met the old definitions for autism and related disorders, the study team found that about 19% of kids would not get an autism diagnosis today. The difference between the new and older criteria is that the new criteria use seven diagnostic criteria (versus 12 criteria in the previous edition) and the new version takes historical behavior into consideration along with current behavior.

When the criteria first came out last year, there was already concern from the autism community that the new criteria would potentially impact – even remove — an existing diagnosis – and strip someone of the therapy (at least financially) that was proving beneficial.  (there was also reaction over the fact that Asperger’s is now falling under the general umbrella of autism versus being separated out.)

So is this study supporting those concerns? Although there are professionals in the field that have said parents and caregivers shouldn’t worry that they’ll need to get their children ‘re-diagnosed,” there are some parents out there already saying this exact thing has happened – and they are now fighting to get back the services their children need.

Lynsey, Community Manager


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