Ever since the first draft of new criteria for diagnosing autism spectrum disorder (ASD) was released, concerns have been raised about individuals “losing” their diagnosis and then losing supportive services. The discussion has centered around the removal of Asperger’s disorder and pervasive developmental disorder – not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) as DSM-5 diagnoses, compounded by the changes in criteria for ASD. Since most of us can’t predict the future, it has taken time to reach a conclusion based on quality research. Now we have that research!
An article currently in press for the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (available online) looks at the impact of DSM-5 on a sample of children diagnosed with autism, Asperger’s disorder, and PDD-NOS under DSM-IV. Conducted by a group from Yale University and the Nathan Kline Institute, including Dr. Bennett Leventhal (one of the founding partners of TAP and a current consultant for our network), the research involved screenings and diagnostic evaluations of school children ages 7-12 in a single Korean community using both DSM-IV and DSM-5 criteria. To date, this is the only research to use both editions of the DSM to diagnose a newly evaluated group of children – a necessary model to insure that one is comparing apples to apples.
The findings were clear – approximately 98% of the children who would have received a diagnosis of autism, Asperger’s, or PDD-NOS using the DSM-IV received a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or social communication disorder using the DSM-5. The remaining 2 % received other diagnoses under the DSM-5, primarily Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and/or anxiety disorder. An earlier study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated about 12% diagnosed with ASD, Asperger’s, or PDD-NOS under the DSM-IV might lose their diagnosis with DSM-5 criteria, but that study did not consider other diagnoses, including the new social communication disorder diagnosis. Because of the similarity of the findings, the CDC study actually provides further support for the validity of this more recent study.
You can read the abstract of the article here.
Russell J. Bonanno, M.Ed.
TAP Program Manager