‘Aspergers’ removed from US diagnostic manual

12 Dec

The Guardian reported at the beginning of December that the term ‘Aspergers’ will be removed from the latest version of the Psychiatrists diagnostic manual. Instead, children with this type of learning disability will be given the diagnosis of high functioning Autism.

Doctors, mental health professionals and insurance companies are just some of the people that use this guide, which lists all the symptoms of mental health problems,  grouping them into diagnoses. It determines what diagnosis you get and what treatment is used.

Aspergers has always been understood to be on the mild end of Autism Spectrum Conditions. Many people with an Aspergers diagnosis are concerned that their support mechanisms may be removed. Some people think that the diagnosis will be more difficult to obtain under the new term ‘high functioning autism’.

In the current edition of the DSM, Asperger’s is one of several subgroups of autism identified by separate labels. These are poorly defined and have generated confusion and subjectivity around diagnosis. In the forthcoming DSM edition, scheduled to be published in 2013, these subcategories will probably be discarded, and the single diagnostic label of Autistic Spectrum Disorder will serve for all. Its manifestations will be categorized by two numerical scales of severity that aim to locate each individual on the continuum. The DSM committee invites public comment on its proposals until June 15.

Many professionals are sceptical about the changes, stating that the new numerical scale cannot possible reflect the complexities of autism.

Tony Attwood, a leading Asperger’s expert, has expressed concern that dropping the label will dissuade people from being evaluated. Some aspects of the proposed criteria can be unclear in adults, who might be “undiagnosed” under the numerical cutoffs. Neuropsychological testing instruments can be insensitive to less-pronounced autism, again making diagnosis less likely.


 (Dr Gail Saltz, US Psychiatrist talks about the changes to the manual)

Different levels of services are provided for different contitions. Is is thought that Aspergers is a condition that familes find more diffiult to get support for. It is hoped that under the new umbrella of autism spectrum conditions, families of children with aspergers will find it easier to gain access to the same level of support services as those who have an autism diagnosis.

A recent study by the New York Times suggests that this may not be so, and that in fact the diagnosis will become more difficult to obtain, therefore excluding many people from gainin access to vital support services.

The New guide is due to be published in May 2013

What are your thoughts? Should they be kept separate?

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One Response to “‘Aspergers’ removed from US diagnostic manual”

  1. jellybelly123 January 18, 2013 at 10:52 #

    Well, I agree that Aspergers comes under Autism Spectrum but they are somehow different.
    The symptoms are closely related, but this does not mean that they are completely similar.
    I think this decision needs to be revised.

    I am sharing the basic difference of these both disorders here:

    There are mainly 2 difference between Aspergers and Autism, first is that children with Autism tend to show language delay or start talking later in life, but Aspergers children start talking at the normal age, and the other difference is that children with Aspergers have more IQ in compare to Children with Autism.

    Reference: http://cluas.ie/children/aspergers-syndrome/

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