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DSM-5 and autism spectrum disorders: implications for families and clinicians

TitleDSM-5 and autism spectrum disorders: implications for families and clinicians
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsCoury, DL
JournalJournal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
Date PublishedSep
ISBN Number1536-7312; 0196-206X

Changes in the criteria for autism spectrum disorders in the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, fifth edition (DSM-5), have raised concerns among both professionals and the public. This commentary reviews these changes and their implications for families and clinicians.


Lead Author
Daniel Coury

Study Aims and Objectives
To discuss the differences between the DSM-IV and DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for Autism and possible effects these changes will have on families, clinicians, and individuals.

Methods- Sample, Procedure, Study Measures, Analysis
Several major changes to Autism diagnostic criteria were made in the DSM-5. First, Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD) were combined into a single term- Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The number of subcategories were reduced from three to two, and now include social communication impairment and restricted interests/repetitive behaviors. Another change added related medical conditions associated with Autism, including Fragile X syndrome and Rett disorder. These new diagnostic criteria focus on the spectrum aspect of the disorder, with severity falling on a sliding scale rather than into defined categories.

Results- Main Findings
Many individuals and families were concerned about a change in diagnosis and a subsequent loss of services due to these updates. The DSM-5 Neurodevelopmental workgroup stated that no individuals with a current ASD diagnosis would lose status, but individuals who did not meet diagnostic criteria under old standards would now be able to receive an ASD diagnosis and related services. The new diagnostic manual also includes descriptions about the impact and effects of the disorder, which the DSM-IV did not include.

Conclusion- Summary Statement
With these changes, more families and individuals will be able to seek appropriate services due to higher rates of diagnosis. Those who already have a diagnosis will be able to continue or even expand their current service use, as the new criteria are broader and emphasize the spectrum nature of the disorder. This is a positive step toward the identification and support of individuals with autism in the community and worldwide.

PubMed ID24042080