With the publication of the DSM-5, parents of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) children may be wondering whether or not to submit their child to another diagnostic evaluation in the hope of qualifying for a more extensive range of resources under the new criteria. Caution is recommended.
Generally speaking, evaluation for available services has been conducted in accordance with the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), although some agencies and districts may use a different criteria.
According to the DSM-4, diagnosing ASD included 3 designations: PDD or pervasive development disorder, high-functioning autism, and Asperger’s. Asperger’s was generally used for fewer than six symptoms of autistic behaviour, high-functioning autism for six or more and PDD for any number of symptomatic behaviours that did not fit either pattern.
Then, in 2012 a study conducted by Dr. Catherine Lord indicated that while these three diagnoses varied widely, the symptoms among the children so diagnosed did not greatly vary.
What did vary to a great extent, however, were the services available based on the diagnosis. For instance, a child diagnosed with high functioning autism would, in many regions, be entitled to a far greater range of services and resources than a child determined to have Asperger’s.
It was in an attempt to correct this situation that the DSM-5 abandoned Asperger’s as a designation and instead, diagnosed for high functioning autism as an umbrella category.
However, under the criteria of the DSM-5 a child must have at least two repetitive behaviours in order to qualify for a high functioning ASD diagnosis. Repetive behaviours are not always present, and some professionals are finding that children are being eliminated from the spectrum on re-diagnosis.
It is important to note that the DSM-5 specifically states that individuals with a well-established DSM-4 diagnosis of autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder or PDD not otherwise specified should be given the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. (p.51).
Thus, it is possible that a child already established as having Asperger’s could still be slotted into the autism spectrum disorder even without repetitive behaviours as long as he is merely carried forward in the system and not re-evaluated.
These are important considerations to keep in mind if you are thinking of having your child re-diagnosed under the new DSM-5.
(This article is based on information from A Parent’s Guide to High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder; Ozonoff, Dawson, McPartland. Please check with your physician or specialist regarding current DSM standards and issues it presents in terms of evaluation).
Hope you find this helpful!