The latest round of cuts to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders includes the removal of Asperger Syndrome, (as well as some other disorders). Comments about this change will be accumulated until June 15, 2012. It is expected that the DSM-5 will be published in May of 2013.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, (or DSM) is a huge catalog of symptoms that can be used by doctors and by psychiatrists around the world to properly diagnose a person with a mental illness. The DSM is not set in stone. Instead, it is designed to have changes made to it, every so often, as the medical field gains new knowledge about mental disorders.
So far, there have been four versions of the DSM. The latest one, the DSM-4, was published in 1994. There has been a large group working on the decision making process involved in figuring out what should remain the same, and what should change, in the upcoming version, (the DSM-5).
It is expected that the DSM-5 will be published in May of 2013. Once it is ready, it will replace the DSM-4 as the source of information used by doctors and psychiatrists who are attempting to diagnose a patient with a mental disorder.
There has been some concern by parents about how the new changes will affect their child who has an autism spectrum disorder. Specifically, this relates to the decision to remove the diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome from the new DSM. Parents fear that this could cause their child to lose the assistive services that he or she is currently receiving.
In the new version, Asperger Syndrome will be rolled into the umbrella diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. In other words, a person who is currently diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome will be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in 2013, after the DSM-5 is published.
This decision has been a controversial one. The purpose is not to leave the group of people, both children and adults, who have a diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome without the services they need. Instead, it is to protect them. For example, an insurance company might allow coverage for ABA treatment for children who have an autism spectrum disorder. They could use a diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome as a “loophole” to avoid having to cover ABA for that person. The change to the new DSM will help prevent these types of problems.
The American Psychological Association is still willing to hear comments about the change to Asperger Syndrome. The final comment period has been opened up, and will remain open until June 15, 2012.
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