The publication of the revised psychiatry bible the DSM 5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) is expected in mid May. Prior to its publication thousands of people worldwide were diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. With its publication the diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome disappears. Many people diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome belong to Asperger’s support groups and call themselves Aspies – what effect will this change in the DSM have on their identity, supports and entitlements? Unfortunately, at this point no one seems to know.
People previously diagnosed with Asperger’s may meet the criteria for Autism or social communication disorder in the DSM 5. Others may not and could potentially lose services and supports. The DSM is a very influential document used by psychiatrists worldwide and there was a lot of opposition to the removal of the diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome.
Tony Attwood, a psychologist who is considered an expert in Asperger’s Syndrome, noted that the change in criteria for autism in the DSM 5 is likely to result in cost savings to insurance companies and government agencies providing supports for people who were diagnosed with Asperger’s.
Professor Ellen Frank of the University of Pittsburgh worked on the DSM and commented that “policy groups who worked on the DSM looked at the public health implications of these changes. She said there wasn’t substantial evidence to suggest that by changing the name anyone would be denied services.”
The effects of this change may vary internationally but it appears these effects won’t be fully evident until the DSM 5 is put into practice.
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