Kansas Center for Autism Research and Training: Statement on Proposed Changes to Definitions of Autism in the DSM-V About the Work Group on Autism Research and Training

Message from the Directors

January 27, 2012: Statement on Proposed Changes to Definitions of Autism in the DSM-V

Many news stories have appeared recently regarding proposed changes in the DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) to the definition of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Most concerns revolve around eliminating Asperger’s Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified and bringing those under the umbrella of one Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis.

The Center for Child Health and Development at the University of Kansas Medical Center has been a leader in providing accurate Autism diagnoses and has been involved in cutting-edge research regarding early diagnosis of Autism and development and training of teams to diagnose Autism. Our approach to Autism diagnosis, utilizing a team of cross-disciplinary professionals including psychologists, developmental pediatricians, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists and behavioral specialists has been shown to be the way to accurately diagnose Autism Spectrum Disorders as early as possible.

Our belief is that the proposed changes to the DSM-V, if implemented correctly, will not adversely impact the numbers of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders and, indeed, may increase the accuracy of diagnosis by providing specific details regarding the severity and areas of needed support for each individual child.

We are confident that utilizing proven team-based processes to diagnose Autism will result in continual appropriate identification of children with ASD and the supports they require to succeed and excel in their educational settings and in the community.

In summary, children will not be excluded because of the changes in DSM-V. In fact, the new diagnostic criteria may provide more clarity to children's strengths and difficulties with specifiers to describe cognitive, language and coexisting conditions such as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).

Matt Reese, Ph.D., Co-Director, Kansas Center for Autism Research and Training and Director, Center for Child Health and Development


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