Major changes to the diagnostic criteria for autism and other conditions are on track to take effect after the nation’s psychiatrists gave final approval to a new version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders this weekend.
The American Psychiatric Association’s board of trustees gave a green light Saturday to the DSM’s fifth version, paving the way for the manual’s publication in May 2013 after more than a decade of consideration.
Full details on the final changes approved by the organization are not expected to be available until the completed DSM is made public.
However, officials did confirm that one of the most controversial proposals calling for autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder and pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified to be folded under the label “autism spectrum disorder” did get approved. The organization said the change will “help more accurately and consistently diagnose children with autism.”
Talk of the autism change has sparked concern that some currently diagnosed with the disorder may no longer qualify under the new criteria, but experts on the psychiatric association panel responsible for recommending the updates insist that this will not be the case.
In addition to changes to the autism diagnosis, the proposed DSM also included recommendations that the term “mental retardation” be replaced with “intellectual developmental disorder.” What’s more, psychiatrists responsible for assessing the diagnosis suggested that the new DSM put less emphasis on IQ score, which led to some criticism, though it’s unclear if that change was approved for the final manual.
The DSM is used by everyone from mental health professionals to researchers and insurers to determine what symptoms are worthy of an official diagnosis. The current edition was released in 1994, with minor updates added in 2000.