Autism Cases May Drop Under New Diagnostic Criteria

by Rachel Baker on February 11, 2014

This is a big concern for people with autistic children and family members. If the definitions have changed, some autistic people may lose the services they rely on.

A study released on [2 weeks ago] says that the new diagnostic criteria from the DSM-5 — often referred to as psychiatry’s diagnostic “bible” — could lower the prevalence of autism-spectrum-disorder cases.

In the new study, which was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC is responsible for national autism surveillance) and autism groups, the authors analyzed how the new criteria, in place since last May, would affect a population of 6,577 8-year-olds who are part of a large network of children with autism-spectrum disorder as defined by the prior DSM-4 criteria.

Applying the DSM-5 criteria, they discovered that the prevalence of autism-spectrum disorder in 2008 would have been 10 per every 1,000 people compared with the 11.3 per 1,000 people who were diagnosed with the DSM-4 criteria. Therefore, not all of the kids who were previously diagnosed with autism-spectrum disorder would meet the new criteria; in fact 81% of them would.

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