News The latest developments in autism research.
Profiles Portraits of scientists who are making a mark on autism research.
Toolbox Emerging tools and techniques that may advance autism research.
Spotted A roundup of autism papers and media mentions you may have missed.
Opinion Conversations on the science of autism research.
Viewpoint Expert opinions on trends and controversies in autism research.
Columnists Dispatches from experts on various facets of autism.
Crosstalk Debates and conversations about timely topics in autism.
Reviews Exploring the intersection of autism and the arts.
Q&A Conversations with experts about noteworthy topics in autism.
Deep Dive In-depth analysis of important topics in autism.
Special Reports Curated collections of articles on special topics in autism.
Webinars Presentations by leading experts on their latest research.
Features / Special Reports

DSM-5

30 May 2013

It’s been nearly 14 years in the making, with heated debate for at least 2, but finally it’s here: The American Psychiatric Association published the DSM-5, the newest revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, on 18 May.

For this special report, we asked several experts to review the DSM-5 criteria for autism — and their reactions are surprisingly positive overall.

Walter Kaufmann, a member of the DSM-5’s Neurodevelopmental Disorders Work Group, notes that the term ‘intellectual disability’ replaces the previous ‘mental retardation,’ a change that is long overdue. The DSM-5 places a greater emphasis on daily life skills over the intelligence quotient in determining intellectual disability.

The new version of the manual also acknowledges for the first time that females with autism may have features that differ from those of males with the disorder, notes William Mandy, a lecturer in clinical psychology at University College London in the U.K.

One of the big changes in the DSM-5 is the decision to have a single diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, folding in the milder Asperger syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS). Many people raised concerns that this move would deny people with less severe symptoms a diagnosis of autism and, as a result, access to services even when they need them.

Simon Baron-Cohen, director of the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University in the U.K., was among those most critical about this change. He now points out that the DSM-5 has made allowances for this fear, and says there is, in fact, much to recommend in the new criteria.

Evidence so far also suggests that people now diagnosed with Asperger syndrome or PDD-NOS won’t lose services, says Ari Ne’eman, president of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. Ne’eman says the new unified diagnosis may instead make it easier for them to get the help they need.

As Ne’eman points out, however, the DSM-5 still has flaws. One big area of concern is the creation of a new diagnosis called social communication disorder.

Helen Tager-Flusberg, director of Research on Autism and Developmental Disorders at Boston University, says there is little evidence that this new category is either reliable or valid, and it should never have been created.

There may be multiple revisions of the DSM-5 to address this and many other concerns, but in the meantime, diagnostic tests may need to be updated to align with the new criteria, says Amy Esler, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota.

What do you think? Join the community discussion here to weigh in on the criteria and pose any questions you may have.


Featured Articles

helentager_flusberg-thumb

Evidence weak for social communication disorder

by  /  30 May 2013

There are several reasons why social communication disorder should not have been included in the DSM-5, says Helen Tager-Flusberg.

walter_kaufmann-thumb

Intellectual disability’s DSM-5 debut

by  /  30 May 2013

The newest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders relies on intellectual function in daily life, both for diagnosing intellectual disability and for determining its level of severity, says Walter Kaufmann.

simon_baron_cohen-Thumb

Despite fears, DSM-5 is a step forward

by  /  30 May 2013

There is little to fear in the definition of autism in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and a lot to recommend it, says Simon Baron-Cohen.

william_mandy-thumb

DSM-5 may better serve girls with autism

by  /  30 May 2013

The newest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders overtly acknowledges that females with autism may have features that differ from those of males with the disorder, says William Mandy.

Amy-Esler-thumb

Adjusting diagnostic tests for the DSM-5

by  /  30 May 2013

As clinicians adopt the new criteria for autism, the many tests now used to diagnose the disorder may need to be modified, says Amy Esler.
 

ari_neeman-thumb

Will new DSM-5 autism criteria impact services?

by  /  30 May 2013

The newest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is an imperfect document, but it is far from the calamity that many have accused it of being, says Ari Ne’eman.

20130527newsrdoc

Funding agency shifts focus away from diagnostic groups

by  /  27 May 2013

The National Institute of Mental Health is moving away from research proposals that hew closely to clinical diagnoses such as autism spectrum disorder. The announcement has struck many autism researchers as an attack on the already-controversial new diagnostic criteria for the disorder.

DSM-5discussion-thumb

Live DSM-5 discussion

22 May 2013

Listen to our virtual roundtable on the DSM-5 criteria for autism, featuring Thomas Insel, Catherine Lord and Helen Tager-Flusberg.

From The Archives

464566
121001-news-dsm5
VolkmarDSM5Article
ongoingdsm5
ongoingdsm5
VolkmarDSM5Article
TAGS:   autism
close

Log in to your Spectrum Wiki account

Email Address:

Password:


close

Request your Spectrum Wiki account

Spectrum Wiki is a community of researchers affiliated with an academic or research institutions. To be considered for participation, please fill out this form and a member of our team will respond to your request.

Name:

Email Address:

Title and Lab:

Area of Expertise:

Comments: